Human settlement

A settlement is a general term used in archaeology, geography, landscape history and other subjects for a permanent or temporary community in which people live, without being specific as to size, population or importance. A settlement can therefore range in size from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. The term may include hamlets, villages, towns and cities. A UK schools curriculum requires 12-year-old pupils to understand and define the term.[1]

In both England and Wales, and Scotland, the term is used to denote an urban area when analysing census information.[2][3]

A settlement conventionally includes its constructed facilities such as roads, enclosures, field systems, boundary banks and ditches, ponds, parks and woods, wind and water mills, manor houses, moats and churches.[4]

Settlements can be ordered by size or other factors to define a settlement hierarchy.

Landscape history studies the form (morphology) of settlements – for example whether they are dispersed or nucleated.

See also