Barbed wire across fields, padlocked gates, ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’ signs: Britain is a land of fences. Who owns these fences, and what does it mean if we cross them? In The Book of Trespass, Nick Hayes takes us on a journey of trespass across Britain. He jumps over walls at baronial estates, wanders into fenced off ancient woodland, trespasses onto the Queen’s land at Windsor and pushes through barbed wire to access MoD property. He examines the social history of property, from the Norman Conquest to the enclosure acts and the privatisation of land.
Along the way he asks crucial questions: what has the mass fencing off of private land done to Britain and its inhabitants? Why is the transgression of boundaries thought so severe here, when roaming is a legal right in so many countries? And who even drew these lines in the first place? A fusion of psychogeography, history, politics and philosophy, fuelled by a gently anarchic spirit, The Book of Trespass is a powerful rumination on how fences represent the division in our society, but also cause it.