So, the more species you find, the older the hedge is likely to be." Quote from here Obviously, the fewer the species the more inaccurate this rule of thumb. Best wishes, John Russell If you could find the corresponding Ordinance Survey maps of the area, you could then date back to the hedge's appearance (or the boundary at least) on the earliest version. It has now been proven (jon stokes, tree council) that you can not age a hedge by the number of species in it. Most existing mature field hedgerows are pre 20th Century.As weedee says, old maps and historical records are the most accurate. The ones planted in the 18th & 19th centuries were mostly a result of the parliamentary enclosure act and tend to be co-axial, meaning two of the boundaries are parallel, they also tend to be straight, thin and mostly hawthorn.It takes a specialist two-man team at the estate two weeks - with no weekend break - to give the hedge it’s annual trim.In turn, the estate receives 35p for every kilogram of cuttings which it donates to a good cause.There's a really old one not so far away on either side of a sunken drovers track has some great big multi-stem small leaf lime - these are an indicator of former ancient woodland.I'd recommend Oliver Rackham's book if you're interested in such things.The development of hedges over the centuries is preserved in their structure.
I'm normally just happy to accept it's old enough to be interesting if it pre-dates the 18th century - around here older hedges might have multi-stem ash or field maple growing from huge coppice stools, or big pollard oaks.
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Often they serve as windbreaks to improve conditions for the adjacent crops.
When clipped and maintained, hedges are also a simple form of topiary.