Kerdroya: The Cornish Hedge Community Heritage Project

Golden Tree Productions, the team behind the award-winning Man Engine, have received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £59,375 for ‘Kerdroya: Cornish Hedge Community Heritage Project’. Marking the Diamond Jubilee of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the project will work with communities and partners in 12 AONB sections across Cornwall to celebrate one of the most special aspects of what makes our landscape so unique – the humble Cornish hedge.

In partnership with the Cornwall AONB Partnership, the National Trust, the Pigshill & Clarrick Woods Community Interest Company, South West Water, Cornwall Council and other landowners the project will identify 12 stretches of Cornish hedge in iconic locations in every AONB section, each in need of conservation and repair. Local master hedgers will work with community groups and schools between April and November 2019, passing on knowledge and skills to create a diverse team of ‘Hedge Stewards’. After 11 hedges have been restored and rebuilt in the local style, they will comprise a Cornwall-wide trail culminating at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor in November 2020. This final site will take the form of a classical labyrinth built from traditional Cornish hedging, drawing from the different vernacular styles across the rest of Cornwall.

A section of hedge at Maker Woodlands in our Rame Head section

A section of hedge at Maker Woodlands in our Rame Head section

 The Cornish hedge is amongst the oldest human-built structures in the world still in use for their original purpose, with some hedges perhaps more than 4,000 years old. With locally distinctive building styles celebrating the micro-geology of place, our hedges create the characteristic field-patterns of the Cornish landscape. There are about 30,000 miles of hedge across Cornwall today: vital nature reserves, linking corridors that connect all 12 AONB sections with each other and through time with their pre-farming species range. With the recent near-catastrophic decrease in pollinators, hedges function as reservoirs for tens of thousands of species of insect (plus 600 species of flowering plants) and are of critical importance.

A section of hedge in our Carnewas to Stepper Point section near Trethias Island

A section of hedge in our Carnewas to Stepper Point section near Trethias Island

Commenting on the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s award, Director of Golden Tree Productions Will Coleman said: “Of all the human-created features of our landscape, First Prize for impact, beauty and function (as well as geological, ecological and cultural significance) goes to the humble Cornish hedge. We’re delighted that our Kerdroya community project has received support from the National Lottery, and can play a part in keeping the ancient craft of Cornish hedging alive.”

Colette Beckham, Cornwall AONB Partnership Manager who created the initial commission that led to Kerdroya said, “In 2019, the Cornwall AONB celebrates its Diamond Jubilee since the designation of Cornwall’s protected landscape in 1959. Kerdroya is both a physical celebration of this important milestone with our partners, and a celebration of the Cornish hedge’s role in the AONB landscape. The project will involve the communities in each of the 12 AONB sections, and deliver training and tourism benefits to Cornwall and local people.”

A section of hedge at Lansallos in our South Coast Eastern section

A section of hedge at Lansallos in our South Coast Eastern section

The Kerdroya team is keen to hear from anyone interested in getting involved in learning about Cornish hedges or in helping them to restore one of the sections. Please email gemma@goldentree.org.uk for more information.