THE EVOLUTION OF RURAL SETTLEMENT IN ENGLAND AND WALES

Celtic Settlement;

·       Formed isolated clusters of housing, usually located on easily defended sites, e.g. hilltops.
·       They are found mainly in the north and west of Britain, and most of the sites still evident have been abandoned.

Roman Settlement;

·       Remains of Roman villas have been found in lowland Britain, e.g. Bignor, W. Sussex and Chedworth, Glos.
·       The villas were largely self-supporting country estates.
·       Many of them had their own industries, e.g. pottery, cloth making and milling.
·       The estates provided nearby towns with farm produce that could be transported along the new road system.

Saxon Settlement;

·       Many street and green villages are of Saxon origin.
·       Many Saxon villages still exist, mainly in south and central England.
·       They too were linked by new routeways that followed the grain of the land, and cut across the Roman road system.

Scandinavian Settlement; (Viking, Norse)

·       These settlements were set up by invaders in the ninth and tenth centuries.
·       They are found in eastern and northwestern parts of England, and in Ireland.
·       At first, they built defensive forts, but these evolved in to villages and towns such as Stamford and Gainsborough in Lincolnshire.

Norman Settlement;

·       This was a very important period of expanding rural settlement.
·       The growth of population led to the need to cultivate more land.
·       More villages were therefore established.
·       The typical village in cultivable areas was the nucleated village farming large open fields.

Late Medieval Settlement;

·       A negative period, where many villages disappeared.
·       Population was decimated by the Black Death, 1347-8. Population of the UK was halved, and took 150 years to return to its previous level.
·       Depopulation led to the desertion of many village sites.
·       There were fewer people to work the land, and the badly hit towns needed less food.
·       Arable land was converted to pasture, and sheep greatly outnumbered people.

Since the Middle Ages.

·       The development of trade has at times brought great prosperity to rural areas, e.g. the 16th century saw the building of ‘wool’ churches in the Cotswolds and East Anglia.
·       The need for capital to invest in industry has led to the concentration of land ownership in fewer hands.
·       The common lands and open spaces have also been enclosed with a resultant secondary dispersion of people from the original nucleated villages.

Factors Leading to the Nucleation of a Settlement;

Nucleation is a settlement form that is often related to the ways in which the land is farmed and owned. It is encouraged by;

(1)    A co-operative system of working the land, e.g. open field.
(2)    Defence, e.g. hilltop, or inside a meander loop.
(3)    Water supply consideration, e.g. spring line.
(4)    The need for dry sites in marshy areas, e.g. the Fens.
(5)    Scarcity of building materials, hence settlements concentrate where they can be obtained, e.g. near a source of brick clay.
(6)    Planned villages established by the landowner.

Factors Leading to a Dispersed Settlement Pattern;

(1)    Dependence on livestock farming, e.g. Scotland
(2)    Specialist intensive farming, e.g. market gardening.
(3)    Celtic influence (Wales)
(4)    Very low densities of populations, e.g. West Highlands.
(5)    Dissolution of large estates, e.g. of the monasteries during Reformation.
(6)    Secondary movement away from nucleated villages, e.g. as a result of enclosure.
(7)    Planned dispersal, e.g. as on to new holdings in Sicily.