Cornish Hedging Skills - Foundation

At a Glance

Assessment Type:
Practical assessment/demonstration/assignment
Delivery Method:
Theory and Practical
Recognised by:
Lantra Awards/Guild of Cornish Hedgers

This 5-day attendance course will develop your skills in constructing Cornish Hedges whilst working under the guidance of a qualified Guild of Cornish Hedgers craftsman. The course has been designed to give those in related professions or sectors a firm foundation in the construction skills and techniques of Cornish hedging and is also suitable for beginners with a keen interest. The course is very “hands-on”, and the emphasis is to learn by doing under the supervision of the instructor.In 2021 the Guild of Cornish Hedgers are partnering with Golden Tree Productions on their project Kerdroya: the Cornish Landscape Labyrinth. Built of traditional Cornish hedging with a 56m diameter, Kerdroya is a classical labyrinth and major new piece of public land art built on a disused car park site. Built in the Bodmin Moor Style of hedging, it will also contain stretches of artisan stonework celebrating the aesthetics of distinct hedging styles celebrating all 12 sections of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in their 60th anniversary year. Anyone taking the course this year will attend the ‘Outdoor University of Cornish Hedging’ at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor. Here they will learn this ancient craft whilst contributing towards the construction of the Cornish Hedges making up the labyrinth.This is a unique opportunity to learn a new skill and be part of something timeless.

Overview in brief

Cornish Hedges are amongst the oldest human-built structures in the world still in use for their original purpose, both historically and ecologically important they are a distinctive part of Cornwall and its Landscape.

On this foundation course learners will:

  • Understand the correct health and safety procedures.
  • Gain a good understanding of the Code of Good Practice for Cornish Hedging how to work in adherence to it.
  • Know how to select and use the tools of the trade.
  • Learn how to prepare and set up a work area ready for building new hedging.
  • Gain in depth hands-on experience in building each element of a Cornish Hedge - foundations, grounders, random course & hedgers.
  • Develop skills in selecting and shaping stones.
  • Fill and ram a hedge and understand the importance of doing so correctly.
  • Learn how to correctly shape, place and secure turf to ‘Top off’ a hedge.
  • Finish and tidy a work area.
  • Understand key maintenance issues.
The finer details

By attending this foundation level course, you will obtain a sound knowledge in how to construct a Cornish Hedge to a high standard under the guidance of your instructor. From the ground up you will learn how to prepare the foundations ready for construction, how to select and lay grounder stones to form the correct batter to start building a traditional Cornish Hedge.

Moving up you will learn how to select, grade and place stones correctly following the Code of Good Practice to form the correct Cornish Hedge profile. Whilst constructing you will learn how to fill the hedge and ram the earth fill, forming a tight core within the hedge which gives the stability required for a long-lasting hedge.

Finally, you will learn how to turf top the hedge to give it its capping.

Throughout the course you will learn how to work to the Guilds best practice, learning the theory behind the methods, putting them into practice and how to transfer these to your own projects.

Before attending the course, we recommend that you go online to the Guild of Cornish Hedgers website and read the paper entitled ‘Repairing Cornish Hedges and Stone Hedges’, also ‘The Code of Good Practice for Cornish Hedges’, and the ‘Health and Safety Risk Assessment Guidance’. But we will provide you with all necessary documents once you have signed up.

Cornish hedging is normally safe and injury-free if sensible care is taken in lifting and handling the stones. Before attending the course, please equip yourself with

  • steel-toed boots
  • safety goggles to protect your eyes as you may need to chip stones with the hammer to make them sit comfortably in their place.
  • Work gloves
  • Suitable sturdy and warm outdoor clothing.
  • We would also advise having a set of waterproofs with you as the worksite is exposed and the weather can change very quickly.
  • Sun hat/Warm hat – ideally both due to changeable weather
  • Your lunch and something to drink, as you will spend the day working outdoors.
  • Tools are provided throughout the course for your use.
Who should attend?

Suitable for those in related professions or sectors i.e. Agriculture, Landscaping, Horticulture or Construction, 

Also suitable for beginners and those wishing to build or maintain Cornish hedges on their own property or voluntary work in environmental conservation.

What will be covered?

Day 1:

The course will start with an introduction to the site and the area where the practical building will take place.

This will be followed with a short presentation covering the following:

  • History of the Cornish Hedge, why it is unique as well as their cultural and environmental importance.
  • The theory and method of construction of a Cornish Hedge
  • The Guild of Cornish Hedgers ‘Code of good practice’
  • Tools of the trade and how to use them.
  • Safety talk – It is important that you pay particular attention during the safety talk and take the advice of the instructor during the course.

Your instructor will answer any questions learners will now have sufficient basic understanding to venture out and have a go.

The rest of the day will cover the practical construction as follows:

  • Selecting an area to construct a new section of hedge.
  • Preparing the Foundations
  • Setting profiles and string lines ready for construction ensuring it conforms to the required dimensions.
  • Selecting and moving grounders safely to the hedging area.
  • Laying grounders to follow the profile.
  • Collecting, placing and ramming the fill around the grounders ensuring grounders are stable and suitable for subsequent courses of stones.
  • Select and sort stone for the random course ready for day 2.

    Throughout the day the instructor will guide and discuss all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

    Day 2:

    The day will start with a brief presentation about the construction skills required for the random course of the hedge – you will then move straight on to enjoy a full day of hedging with your instructor and will cover the following.

  • Place random course stones ensuring interlocking and good contact whilst following the hedge profile
  • Collect and move fill to the hedging area.
  • Ram the earth centre ensuring stones do not push out and continue to stay in line with the profile.
  • Continue to collect, sort and place stones and fill in the random course.

    Throughout the day the instructor will be guiding trainees and discussing all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

    Day 3:

     The day will commence with short presentation about the construction process for the Hedgers element of the hedge which will be started later in the day. On day 3 trainees will:

  • Continue placing Random Course stone and packing fill to reach the level line ready for the hedgers section.
  • Be shown how to select suitable stone for use as hedgers from a stone pile.
  • Select and grade selected stone ready for each hedger layer.
  • Be shown how to and practice shaping hedgers stones.
  • Move selected hedgers to the construction area.
  • Place hedgers onto the hedge.
  • Collect and move fill to the hedge.
  • Place fill into the hedge and ram - ensuring the profile is followed and that best practice is always used.

    Throughout the day the instructor will be guiding trainees and discussing all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

     Day 4:

     The day will start with an opportunity for further discussion about the Code of Good practice and then a full day of hedging as follows: 

    • Sorting and shaping hedgers.
    • Moving them to the hedge and placing them correctly following the code of good practice.
    • Collecting and moving fill to the hedge.
    • Filling and compacting fill behind hedgers.


      Throughout the day the instructor will be guiding trainees and discussing all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

      Day 5:

       The final full day of hedging will cover how to finish a newly built hedge. Learners will

  • Complete any hedgers as required to the top of the hedge.
  • Collect, place and compact fill up the top of the hedge.
  • Learn to dome and prepare the top of the hedge.
  • Cut, place and pin turf toppings.
  • Clear and tidy the working area - ensuring the area around the hedge is clear and any unused stone piled ready for future use.
  • Tools cleaned and ready for next use.

Again, throughout the day the instructor will guide and discuss all elements of the construction process and answer questions as they arise.

On completion of day 5 there will be a debrief, the opportunity for any further questions and to complete feedback forms.

Learners will be ready to practice their newly acquired or greatly enhanced skills on their own projects. 

Other areas of interest?
  • Introduction to Cornish Hedging Skills - (2 days)
  • Certificate in Cornish Hedging – Intermediate (10 Days)
  • Certificate in Cornish Hedging - Craftsman Certificate (50 Days) 

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