Field patterns and hedgerows give the Tywi valley a distinct character, but why do they vary
so much across the landscape? And can we discover what age they are by looking at the structure and species
growing in them?
These are just two of the questions that were addressed by the hedgerow recording survey.
Features to look out for include fruit or ornamental trees and shrubs, which might indicate a garden or cottage
enclosure. The construction of banks and ditches and repeated planting patterns of hedgerow species may provide
clues to its date and purpose.
Other clues to dating hedgerows can be found in field names on tithe maps, the number of
species they contain and its relationship with other features in the landscape.
Exploration Tywi! participants have carried out surveys of the hedgerows around Felindre
near Llangadog. Here the characteristic open Medieval strip fields have been preserved when the strips became
amalgamated and enclosed by a stock proof boundary.
HOW TO HAVE A HEDGEROW HUNT
Hedgerows and field boundaries can tell us a great deal about the landscape and how it has
evolved over time. If you would like to study hedgerows first check that you have the landowner’s permission
and download our recording sheets and guidance notes which are at the bottom of this page.
Clues to look for
• Fruiting trees such as apple, plum or damson or ornamental varieties such as privet,
box or laburnum may indicate a garden or enclosure for a cottage.
• Particular species may repeat in the hedgerow indicating a planting pattern.
• Do roads/railways appear to ‘cut across’ field boundaries? Dates of
turnpike roads and railways can provide a chronology.
• Field names on the Tithe map may indicate land use and offer clues to the date
of the field pattern.
• Do other field boundaries respect or butt up to a boundary? This may indicate a
boundary of some significance and antiquity.
• Are standard trees present? Standards are trees left to grow naturally for 80 –
100 years when they could be harvested and used for timber. Timber was a very valuable commodity. Prior
to the 19th century they could have been pollarded – cut at a height of around 2-3 metres. Pollards
might provide an important fodder crop – ‘leafy hay’.
• What is the construction of the physical boundary (i.e. a bank or ditch) and how
does it compare to those adjacent?
Don’t forget to deposit your records at the local HER, as these will add to the body
of knowledge for your local area.
Download documents in PDF format - all open in a new window.
Hedgerow Recording Training
Hedgerow Recording Sheet