Hedge Summary

Hedge Summary

Because of the constraints of time and the unfamiliarity of the observers with methods of hedgerow reporting only a generalised overview of the structure, state and shape of the hedges was undertaken. It was not possible to examine the flora associated with them or make any observations in great detail. We were also limited by lack of access particularly to enclosures in the north of the study area. Thus we examined most of the boundaries south of and east of the line of Market Flat Lane and Scriven Road which were not associated with private dwellings, those immediately north of Market Flat Lane, and those of the projecting area to the east of Farnham Lane and also a narrow strip to the immediate west of Farnham Lane. Seventy two hedges were reported on in total.
The fields in the far west of the study i.e. those west of Preston Bottoms Lane area, which are long strips with parallel sides, appear to date from the 1830 enclosures . Those in the area of Jacob Smith Park were larger and irregular being part of an earlier field system. But many of the hedges were straight suggesting later subdivisions. Straight boundaries were the most common throughout the whole of the study area.
Almost all the hedges accessed and those viewed from roads were planted as hawthorn. Most, probably all, were layered in their early years although some of the hawthorns had subsequently been allowed to grow tall. Almost all the hedges had been infiltrated by other species, often heavily, elder being the most common. In one case elder predominated over the original hawthorn. Other infiltrators were holly, hazel, elm, blackthorn, and snow berry. Less common were oak, buckthorn, prunus, lime, alder, cherry, beech and mountain ash. Where a hedge skirted a small pond there was willow as well as alders. Near dwellings, leylandii, privet, laurel, berberis and darwinia occurred, presumably mostly by human intervention. Some species such as blackthorn appear to have been used to fill gaps in the original hawthorn in some places. It was noted that some hedges had been climbed over by rose bramble, ivy and convolvulus. Sometimes ivy had become part of the hedge structure.

Some hedges had been lost. The line of one of these was still indicated by hawthorn stumps. Some hedges had been replaced by fencing. Many of those extant were lined by post and wire fencing. It was common to find the remains of a wooden fence incorporated into the hedge, possibly dating to the original enclosure. Those hedges enclosing pasture land were impenetrable and mostly well maintained. Those demarcating arable land often had less well maintained hedges with gaps.
The north hedges of the fields along the north side of Market Flat Lane ie field 41 and subdivisions south of the narrow strip of woodland, itself south of Coney Garth, could have been the oldest viewed but they appeared unmanaged which might have influenced their appearance.

At the east end of the hedge of field 3 i.e the boundary that runs along the Ripley- Knaresborough road. an area of substantial stone wall was found at the junction with Red Hill Lane. As stone wall also borders the pond at Appleby Carr. Yew and ornamental shrubs in the vicinity suggest an ornamental garden.

A general uniformity was noted. Possibly most if not all of the hedges seen dated from the first half of the nineteenth century.

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