Mature beech hedges are a distinctive feature of Exmoor. They provide shelter to livestock and crops, are home to valuable wildlife, and an important historical record of human activity in the area. Usually they can be found on top of earth banks, some of them 2 metres high. It is thought that some of these hedge walls go back 1000 years.
The Knight family of Simonsbath used beech extensively in the mid 19th century during their huge moorland reclamation project as did the Acland family who had a large estate on the moor. Following experiments, they found that beech was the best choice to top the banks as it grows higher on Exmoor than anywhere else and is of little logging value. When thinned and layed properly, it forms a good wind and stock-proof barrier.
(Source: Everything Exmoor)