Page 1 of 1

Single Trees in Cultivated Fields

Posted: 25 Nov 2020, 16:57
by markratcliff
Hi everyone

In my neighbourhood (Essex/Herts border) there are several large single trees in the middle of farmer's fields (I suspect this isn't confined to this area.

I assume they are the remnants of larger woodland areas that were removed when the fields were first cultivated (or possibly when hedgerows were removed as fields were merged).

Several theories have been advanced on a local Facebook group as to why the trees were left, ranging from giving shade to farmworkers/animals, as markers, being too large to uproot. One theory says they are "Stumper" or "Stumping" trees that were used to attach block and tackle to remove the rest of the trees-this last one being left as there was no other attachment point for the block and tackle.

This last suggestion was re-posted by a member but seemed to originate in the USA. I've been unable to find much coroboration for the theory online and my feeling is that this is unlikely to have occured in the UK but I'm not sure knowing little about dates and processes for such field clearances.

Does anyone on here have any thoughts on the matter.

If nothing else it's whiled away a few hours of lockdown for me! I'll have a look at some of the other posts on here now...

Many thanks


Re: Single Trees in Cultivated Fields

Posted: 25 Nov 2020, 20:03
by rwhoyle
I think that there are two possible reasons. The first is that these are tree which stood in parkland. You don't say what the current land use is, but it is not uncommon to see standard trees in arable fields. The alternative, as you suggest, is that they mark the lines of hedges which have been removed but where some or perhaps occasional trees were left where the hedgeline had been.

If you can let me have further details of where this is, I can have a look at the historic maps for you. Alternatively, there is a convenient source of historic Ordnance Survey maps on the National Library of Scotland website: if you google NLS Ordnance Survey maps you will quickly find it. That should give you 150 years of maps. You might also want to look at the tithe map, if there is one, which will take you back to c. 1840.

I don't think that anyone would give much credence to the idea that such trees are the survivors of a primeval forest.

Richard Hoyle

Re: Single Trees in Cultivated Fields

Posted: 27 Nov 2020, 14:28
by markratcliff
Thanks for your reply Richard.

I have access to to various old maps and will see whether these tie in with any old field boundaries.

Best wishes