Hooper's Rule

Hooper's Rule

Hooper's Rule is the observation, by Dr. Max Hooper, that a British hedgerow can be dated quite accurately by counting the number of species therein. His original formula, published in the book "Hedges" in 1974, is such that the age is equal to the number of woody species counted in a thirty yard distance multiplied by 110 years.

This method is only a rule of thumb, and can be off by a couple of centuries; it should always be backed up by documentary evidence, if possible, and take into account other factors. Caveats include the fact that planted hedgerows, hedgerows with Elm, and hedgerows in the north of England, tend not to follow the rule as closely. The formula also does not work on hedges more than a thousand years old.

According to BBC History, Dr. Hooper first developed this scheme in the 1950s. It is important not least for its potential use in determining what an important hedgerow is, given their protection in [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971160.htm#4 The Hedgerows Regulations] (1997; No. 1160) of the Department of the Environment, based on age and other factors.

One derivative or corruption of the formula, given by Chris Brown though not necessarily of his concoction, is to multiply the number of species by 99 years and then deduct sixteen.

Further reading

* [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1510/is_n86/ai_17002621 The age of hedges] - "Botanist Max Hooper correlates number of species in English hedgerows with centuries in age". Whole Earth Review, Summer 1995, by Charles Elliott.
* [http://handbooks.btcv.org.uk/handbooks/content/section/253 Hedgerow Dating] - "Hedging", by Alan Brooks and Elizabeth Agate. ISBN 0-946752-17-6. Chapter 1, The Hedgerow Landscape. BCTV.
* [http://www.binghamheritage.org.uk/natural/binghams_hedges_date.htm How to Date Hedges] - Bingham Heritage.
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/lj/locallj/ff_thriplow_hedges.shtml Thriplow Hedges] - BBC History.
* [http://www.cholesbury.com/hedgerows.htm Local History - Hedgerows] - by Chris Brown.


* Pollard, E., Hooper, M.D. and Moore, N.W. (1974). "Hedges". London: Collins.
* Rackham, Oliver (1986). "The History of the Countryside". London: J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd.

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