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Settlement Site, Situation and Hierachy
Transcript of Settlement Site, Situation and Hierachy
a settlement is a place where people live. It can be a city, town, village or a hamlet
Site refers to the actual piece of ground on which the settlement is built.
The site of a settlement is its exact location
1 - Protection / Defence
It was especially important to protect settlements from those who wished to attack. A good vantage point to watch for this was a hill, and many castles and forts were built on hills to watch for attackers
Early settlers needed to find places which were easily defended from attack. A good site was one which was surrounded by a river meander. The villagers would only have to build defences on one side at the neck of the meander.
Durham and the River Wear
It is at this point that the River Wear takes a remarkable curve which almost isolates the central part of the city on which the cathedral and castle stand.
The site was largely chosen for its fantastic natural defensive qualities.
2 – Plenty of Water
Washing, drinking and cooking all need water, and it was vital to have an adequate supply especially during the summer. Rivers are also good for transport. Springs, wells and rivers provided supplies.
Some settlements are located in a valley to obtain water from the river. The
flat land (deposited silt) also provided fertile farmland. The flat land above
the floodplain might provide an excellent transport route way.
3 – Not Too Much Water
It was important then and is still important to ensure that settlements are not built on areas that will flood, or are marshy (as the settlement will sink). This isn't always possible to see, particularly if the floods only occur every few years, or there isn't a flood whilst building the settlement.
4 – Rivers
Rivers can be useful supplies of water in themselves, or agents of flooding. But what is important about rivers as a site factor is that they can be crossed, either by bridge or ford. A river that couldn't be crossed would have been a problem for early settlements, if they couldn't escape across a river during an attack. Rivers can now be crossed by building bridges, but these are expensive.
5 – Building Materials
Either wood or stone was needed to build early settlements, so a forest, wood or hillside with crags was needed to provide the materials. This is not so important today, as houses are built of brick and slate, which are easily provided.
6 – Supply of Wood
Not as important today, but early settlements would need wood for fuel. It was therefore vital that the settlement was near trees.
Fertile Soil : needed for growing crops to support the settlements population. There is a higher density of rural settlements where there are fertile soils
Clay soils would have been used to make clay pots for cooking with
Iron Ore or Tin for making tools
Supply of easily quarried stone to build houses
Situation or Position refers to the location of the village or town in relation to surrounding areas.
If a settlement had good access to natural resources, and to other settlements, it would grow in size. Many settlements with a good site and situation have grown into large cities.
Paris is the capital city of France. It is the largest city in Europe and has a population of 10 million people. Paris began in the third century BC. It was sited on a small island in the River Seine. The site was good for defence, but was also a crossing point across the river. The fertile soil of the River Seine's floodplain was also excellent for farming. Under Roman rule, Paris grew and became the centre of a network of roads stretching across Europe.
The situation of Paris has made it one of the most important cities in Europe. It is the focus of many major roads and railway lines. Paris has also become the centre for many international air routes.
What is a Settlement Hierarchy?
A settlement hierarchy is when settlements are ranked in order of size or importance
This refers to the arrangement of settlements in an ‘order of importance’, usually from many isolated dwellings or hamlets at the base of the hierarchy to one major city, (usually the capital) at the top.
The order of importance is usually based on one of the following:
the area and population of the settlement (size)
the range and number of services/functions within each settlement
the relative sphere of influence of each settlement.
Isolated dwelling – an isolated dwelling would only have 1 or 2 buildings or families in it. It would have negligible services, if any.
Hamlet – a hamlet has a tiny population (<100) and very few (if any) services, and few buildings.
Village – a village generally does not have many services, possibly only a small corner shop or post office. A village has a population of 100 to 1,000
Town – a town has a population of 1,000 to 20,000
Large town – a large town has a population of 20,000 to 100,000.
City – a city would have abundant services, but not as many as a large city. The population of a city is over 100,000 people.
Large City – a city with a large population and many services. The population is >1 million people.
Conurbation/metropolitan area – a supercity consisting of multiple cities and towns. The population is usually several million.
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet, but smaller than a town or city. Though generally located in rural areas
A town is a type of settlement ranging from a few to several thousand (occasionally hundreds of thousands) inhabitants. Usually, a "town" is thought of as larger than a village but smaller than a "city",
A city is an urban area with a large population and a particular administrative, legal, or historical status.
A conurbation is an urban area or agglomeration comprising a number of cities, large towns and larger urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area.