An Introduction to Cornish Hedging

At a Glance

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

This course is an introduction to the maintenance and construction of Cornish Hedges to enable learners to undertake basic Cornish Hedge maintenance and construction in line with the Guild of Cornish Hedgers Code of Good Practice. The course is suitable for beginners with no experience and would suit individuals who want to build or maintain Cornish hedges on their property or as an introduction to the craft.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 major new piece of public land art built on a disused car park site. With the main Labyrinth being 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

During the course the learners will:

  • Understand the need for correct safety procedures.
  • Be introduced to the Code of Good Practice for Cornish Hedging.
  • Learn the basic skills for repairing/building a Cornish Hedge.
  • Take part in sorting and placing stones in a Cornish Hedge.
  • Finish and tidy a work area.
The finer details

On this short introductory course, you will learn the basic handling of stone and use of the necessary tools, the hedging hammer and the long-handled Cornish shovel, to build a Cornish Hedge. You will be shown how to prepare a hedge ready for repair, and how to sort and select stone for building. You will start to understand how to use your eye to select the right shape of stone to fit into the row, and how to place the stones in accordance with the existing hedge and consolidate the fill. Finally, you will top off a section of hedge with earth and turf for a neat, secure and wildlife-friendly finish. Having completed the course, you will be able to practice and improve your new skills in your own time.

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 both beginners and those looking to improve or consolidate their knowledge.

Gardeners, Conservationists, Hobbyists, Landscapers, Farmers and Farm Workers and other land-based workers.

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:

  • Setting profiles and string lines ready for a repair or construction ensuring it conforms to the required dimensions.
  • Preparing the foundation trench, selecting and 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.
  • Place random course stones ensuring interlocking and good contact whilst following the hedge profile and ramming the earth centre.

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

    Day 2:

    You will be welcomed back to the site to enjoy a full day of hedging with your instructor and will cover the following.

  • Continue to sort and place stones and fill in the random course up to the level line.
  • Select, sort and shape stone ready for the hedgers.
  • Place hedgers and ram the fill - ensuring the profile is followed and that best practice is always used.
  • Dome and prepare the top of the Hedge.
  • Cut and place 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 2 there will be 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?
  • Cornish Hedging Skills - Foundation (5 days)
  • Certificate in Cornish Hedging – Intermediate (10 Days)
  • Certificate in Cornish Hedging - Craftsman Certificate (50 Days)

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