Robert Macfarlane on nature writing

This is an old article, from 2003, but still an interesting read:

I very much like this – ‘duchthas, the Gaelic word that means something like “the sense of belonging in a place” ‘ – it’s a word I wasn’t familiar with before. I guess that’s a large part of what I’m trying to convey in the book, the way that hedges form part of our (or my) sense of belonging in Britain. (Which could be described as “Britishness” though I’m not sure that’s a coherent concept).

Hedges aren’t only characteristic of the countryside and the way in which the land has been divided and used. They also map out towns and cities, firstly because they surround so many gardens, and secondly because urban development often followed the old field patterns, as the fields were sold off piecemeal and gradually built on. So urban roads often follow old hedgelines. And, as fragments of forest, hedges are also reminders of the wildwood which grew here before we created the modern landscape. For every freestanding tree on these islands, there are many more that make up the hedges of town and country.

So while hedges are only one element of the natural world around us, they carry a significant amount of information about our relationship with nature.

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Filed under Historical Hedges, The Hedge Philosopher

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