A dispersed settlement, also known as a scattered settlement, is one of the main types of settlement patterns used by landscape historians to classify
rural A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000.">South_Karelia.html" ;"title="Lappeenranta, South Karelia">Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or countryside is a geographic ar ...
settlements found in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. En ...
and other parts of the world. Typically, there are a number of separate farmsteads scattered throughout the area. A dispersed settlement contrasts with a
nucleated villageA nucleated village or clustered settlement is one of the main types of settlement pattern. It is one of the terms used by geographers and landscape historians to classify settlements. It is most accurate with regard to planned settlements: its con ...
. The French term '' bocage'' is sometimes used to describe the type of landscape found where dispersed settlements are common. In addition to Western Europe, dispersed patterns of settlement are found in parts of
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea (PNG; , ; tpi, Papua Niugini; ho, Papua Niu Gini; tcs, Op Deudai), officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea ( tpi, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niugini; ho, Independen Stet bilong Papua Niu Gini), is a count ...
, as among the Gainj, Ankave, and Baining tribes. It is also frequently met with in nomadic pastoral societies.


In England, dispersed settlements are often found in the areas of ancient enclosure outside the central region—for example,
Essex Essex () is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the Rive ...
Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estu ...
and the
West Country The West Country is a loosely defined area of south-western England. The term usually encompasses the historic counties of (from west to east) Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset, and is often extended to include Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, ...
. An example of a dispersed settlement given by W G Hoskins is Middle Barton in Steeple Barton, Oxfordshire. In some parts of England, the pattern of dispersed settlement has remained unchanged for many hundreds of years. Many of the locations found in Domesday may be dispersed farmsteads. It is sometimes possible to identify documentary references to farmsteads in the 18th or 19th centuries with these Domesday entries. In areas of Kent and Essex close to London, the development of residential housing during the 20th century has often disguised the dispersed nature of the original settlement. The farmsteads which make up the dispersed settlement are often surrounded by small irregularly shaped fields. Traditionally, trees are encouraged to grow at the edges of these fields and in thin strips alongside roads. However, during the 20th century, much of this woodland disappeared, either as a result of disease or modern farming practice. Arthur Young (writer), Arthur Young's description of the view from Langdon Hills, "dark lanes intersected with numberless hedges and woods," is a typical description of the landscape in an area of dispersed settlements.


Anthony Galt has written an extensive study of the dispersed settlement pattern around Locorotondo in the Province of Bari in southern Italy.D. Curtis, https://www.academia.edu/1933250/Is_there_an_agro-town_model_for_Southern_Italy_Exploring_the_diverse_roots_and_development_of_the_agro-town_structure_through_a_comparative_case_study_in_Apulia In this case, the settlement pattern developed because of movement from the town to the countryside in the 19th century. Emphyteutic leases were used by landowners seeking to increase their income from land that was only marginally attractive for agriculture by encouraging the creation of vineyards.

German-speaking Europe

Known as ''Streusiedlungen'' (singular ''Streusiedlung''), dispersed settlements are a characteristic of various parts of German-speaking Europe, including in areas of Westphalia, historically the Ruhr urban area (the dispersed settlements lending themselves to the development of urban sprawl after industrialisation), the Austro-Bavarian parts of the valleys of the Alps, Alps (Upper Bavaria, Austria, South Tyrol) as well as Alamannic parts of the Alps (Bernese Oberland, Central Switzerland).


{{DEFAULTSORT:Dispersed Settlement Landscape history