nucleated village


A 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 concept is one in which the houses, even most farmhouses within the entire associated area of land, such as a
parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christianity, Christian denominations, constituting a division within a diocese. A parish is under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of a priest#Christianity, priest, often termed a parish priest, ...
, cluster around a central church, which is close to the
village green A village green is a commons, common open area within a village or other settlement. Historically, a village green was common pasture, grassland with a pond for watering cattle and other stock, often at the edge of a rural settlement, used for g ...
. Other focal points can be substituted depending on cultures and location, such as a commercial square, circus, crescent, a railway station, park or a sports stadium. A clustered settlement contrasts with these: *
dispersed settlement A dispersed settlement, also known as a scattered settlement, is one of the main types of Human settlement, settlement patterns used by Landscape history, landscape historians to classify rural settlements found in England and other parts of the w ...
linear settlement A linear settlement is a (normally small to medium-sized) settlement or group of buildings that is formed in a long line. Many of these settlements are formed along a transport route, such as a road, river, or canal. Others form due to physical r ...
*polyfocal settlement, two (or more) adjacent nucleated villages that have expanded and merged to form a cohesive overall community A sub-category of clustered settlement is a planned village or community, deliberately established by landowners or the stated and enforced planning policy of local authorities and central governments.


One example of a nucleated village in England is
Shapwick, Somerset Shapwick is a village on the Polden Hills overlooking the Somerset Moors, in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset Somerset (; Archaism, archaically Somersetshire) is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in South West England which bord ...
. Many nucleated villages originated in
Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of until the in 1066, consisted of various kingdoms until 927, when it was united as the by King (r. 927–939). It became part of the s ...
, but historian W. G. Hoskins discredits a previously held view that uniquely associated nucleated villages with that influx to England and their emergent society. In England, nucleated settlements prevail for example in central parts of the country away from the rockiest soil and steepest slopes where open field farming predominated. In this landscape, the village was typically surrounded by two (or three) large fields in which villagers had individual strips - see
open field system 300px, Generic map of a medieval manor, showing strip farming. The mustard-colored areas are part of the hatched areas part of the glebe">hatching.html" ;"title="demesne, the hatching">hatched areas part of the glebe. William R. Shepherd, ''His ...
. Various explanations have been offered as to the reason for this form of settlement including the ethnic origin of the Anglo-Saxon settlers, density of population and the influence of local lords of the
manor Manor may refer to: Land tenure *Manor, the land belonging to the Lord of the manor under manorialism in parts of medieval Europe, notably England *Manor house, the main residence of the lord of the manor *Lord of the manor, the landholder of a ma ...
. Dr Tom Williamson theorised in 2004 that the best explanation is the combination of soil quality and climate which leads to differences in agricultural techniques for exploiting local conditions. Planned settlements can be clearly distinguished from other communities in the late medieval period when landowners began to en masse allocate two rows of new houses set on equal-sized plots of land -
burgage plots Burgage is a medieval land terms, medieval land term used in Great Britain and Ireland, well established by the 13th century. A burgage was a town ("borough" or "burgh") rental property (to use modern terms), owned by a king or lord. The property ...
. At the opposite end of the burgage plot there is often a back lane which gives the original village a regular layout, right-angled development, which can often still be seen today in England. Planned villages were usually associated with markets, from which the landowner expected to make profits.

Central Europe

In central Europe, nucleated villages have also emerged from smaller settlements and many farmsteads (equivalent to many hamlet (place), hamlets) also grew into societal communities with growth in population. These villages generally have an irregular shape but are roughly circular around a central place and/or church as their epicenter. The central place is usually a lake or somewhere easy to defend.

Further reading

Daniel R. Curtis, 'The emergence of concentrated villages in medieval Western Europe: Explanatory frameworks in the historiography'

Notes and references

;Notes ;References {{Reflist Landscape history Types of village de:Dorf#Haufendorf