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Origin of hedges

They were introduced during the XVI and XVII centuries in order to permit all landlords "to enclose their land by walls, hedges, palisades and ditches, to make them defensible."
This was an obvious right which didn't need any legal confirmation. There was freedom to lead their livestock to grazing on uncultivated and open land". It was necessary to plant hedges to stop the livestock roaming on this land. In consequence fruit trees such as apples, hazelnut, whitethorn and blackthorn were planted.

However, the origin of hedges probably dates from the Middle Ages when the land at that time was only occasionally cultivated.
The peasants worked regularly at clearing and caring for manorial lands, adapting some plots into cultivation for their own use.
The formation of hedged farmland evolved with the pace of the expansion of hamlets and clearings. Oak trees were planted and their branches were cut and used for firewood (pollarding).

Hedgerows kept the livestock within a given plot and were also used to form lanes, these were essential during the movements of cattle between stables and meadows.
The formation of hedgerows was due then to the presence of common grazing land. They also gave fruit and supplied firewood during the XVIII and XIX centuries when the forests were not capable of doing so.

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