From 'Discovering Hedgerows' by David Street and Rosamond Richardson.
'The bramble has much folklore attached to it: sick children used to be passed through an arch of bramble that had rooted at both ends in order to make them better; it was also believed that this could cure rheumatism. The Greeks and Romans used blackberries to cure gout, and infusions of the leaves are still used in folk medicine to relieve sore throats and tonsillitis. Current medical researchers are investigating the possibility that the leaves contain anti-diabetic properties.'
You can tell the age of a hedge by the number of species of plants and trees that grow in it.