Ertach Kernow - Blog Plus

Cornish stone hedge collapse, a monumental fiasco - 21st November 2022

Whilst property developers demolish historic Cornish Stone Hedges to make way for more housing and industrial development in Cornwall, much is made of the new Cornish Stone Hedges lining new roads. This new building especially along the new A30 restructuring and adjacent roads has turned into a fiasco of monumental proportions. Hedges have been constructed throughout Cornwall for thousands of years and although the size and type of stone varies throughout Cornwall, depending on local stone availability, the design and basic concept remains the same.

These are built with large stone bases, sloping sides, wider at the bottom and narrower at the top, filled between with soil that is tamped down and compacted firmly between each layer and topped off by turf. Over time plants and grasses will grow between the stones and often bushes will grow on the top creating opportunities for an ecosystem to evolve over many years. The loss of historic hedges is not just a Cornish Stone Hedge that can be easily replaced, but also loss of the smaller flora and animal life that lived around that hedge system.

It seems that the replacement and building of Cornish Stone Hedges along the A30 and adjacent roads has now deteriorated to such an extend that it has become a fiasco. Although these new stone hedges are understood to be being constructed to standards set by the Guild of Cornish Hedgers, they obviously aren’t. Most Cornish folk would quickly recognise traditional hedging in Cornwall, but recent construction does not match the standards set by Cornish hedge builders for millennia. Too upwardly straight and narrow, larger stones not laid in traditional manner, smaller stones not laid towards the top in a tight herringbone pattern are some of the charges that could be laid against them. The result is that many scores of yards of this substandard hedge are already collapsing. Blaming the weather is not an excuse and no doubt more of these ‘walls’, one can hardly class them as hedges, will collapse as the winter approaches.

There is only one answer and that is to deconstruct and rebuild even the existing completed sections from scratch in a proper traditional Cornish manner and under expert supervision. With an estimated 30,000 of hedging stretching back to even Neolithic times our hedges here in Cornwall are something Cornish folk take pleasure in. What is being constructed now cannot be considered Cornish stone hedging and certainly not something that Cornish people can look at and be proud of. Visitors driving down through Cornwall should be able to see top quality Cornish Stone Hedges, although new, but adding to Cornwall’s wider traditional landscape and environmental heritage.

Check out the amount of collapse along a short distance on the A3075 in the video below on our YouTube Channel.

Watch our video by Cornish hedge builder Jack Gregory on how a Cornish stone hedge should really be built.