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The farms were of about 5 to 10 hectares (12 to 25 acres), with fields about 0.1 hectares (0.25 acres) for hand cultivation.
Some hedges date from the Bronze and Iron Ages, 2000–4000 years ago, when traditional patterns of landscape became established.
A hedge or hedgerow is a line of closely spaced shrubs and/or tree species, planted and trained to form a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area, such as between neighbouring properties.
Hedges used to separate a road from adjoining fields or one field from another, and of sufficient age to incorporate larger trees, are known as hedgerows.
The most common species are oak and ash, though in the past elm would also have been common.
Around 20 million elm trees, most of them hedgerow trees, were felled or died through Dutch elm disease in the late 1960s.
Charles the Bald is recorded as complaining in 864, at a time when most official fortifications were constructed of wooden palisades, that some unauthorized men were constructing haies et fertés – tightly interwoven hedges of hawthorns.
The development of hedges over the centuries is preserved in their structure.
The first hedges enclosed land for cereal crops during the Neolithic Age (4000–6000 years ago).
In parts of Britain, early hedges were destroyed to make way for the manorial open-field system.
Many were replaced after the Enclosure Acts, then removed again during modern agricultural intensification, and now some are being replanted for wildlife.