Hedges are something we take for granted as we look at Welsh landscapes. What many of us don’t realise is the age and historical significance of some of our hedgerows.

Shane Hughes, who is working on the Long Forest project in Wrexham, explained;

I have been amazed to find that many of the hedgerows around Holt are based on medieval field patterns and that the plants have had their lives extended for hundreds of years by careful management, including laying of the hedges. The area owned by Holt Town Trust has comparatively young hedges, which date back only to the enclosure of the land in 1851!

Shane has been working with local historian, Brian Payne, who is a trustee of the Holt Town Trust to find out more about the hedges around Holt.

Brian explained,

Common Wood was granted by charter for the villagers to graze their cattle and collect firewood in the early 14th century. Following the Enclosure Act, 65 separate plots of about two and a half acres each were created for village burgesses to graze their cattle. These were all enclosed by hawthorn hedges in 1851.

Since then, some of these hedges have been removed, or gaps have appeared as sections of hedge died off. It is important to re-establish these hedges to keep the unique plots for the future, and to enhance their appearance, avoiding the untidy lengths of temporary fencing. We recognise too the importance of the hedgerows in supporting wildlife. 

Recognising the valuable contribution of hedges to Welsh heritage, but also future biodiversity, Keep Wales Tidy teamed up with the Woodland Trust to launch the Long Forest hedgerow project, backed by funding from the Heritage Lottery and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The project tackles hedgerow decline across Wales by encouraging hedge planting, helping people to maintain hedges in a more wildlife friendly way and doing surveys of local hedges.

Gwrychoedd - hanes byw yn y dirwedd