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Site And Situation. Site. The Site of a settlement describes the physical nature of where it is located. Factors such as water supply, building materials, quality of soil, climate, shelter and defence were all considered when settlements were first established.
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Site • The Site of a settlement describes the physical nature of where it is located. • Factors such as water supply, building materials, quality of soil, climate, shelter and defence were all considered when settlements were first established. • For instance the site of Sydney, in Australia, initially took advantage of the excellent natural harbour and surrounding fertile farmland.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 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.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 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.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 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 (paludoso) (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.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 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 (guado). 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.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 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.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 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.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 7 – Flat Land It is extremely difficult to build a settlement on land with a gradient (such as a hillside) and so land should be flat wherever possible. This should not be confused, as it often is, with low-lying land: the top of a high hill or plateau could be flat too. It is possible to build a settlement now on a gradient, but it is much more time consuming and expensive.
Variation 1: SITE FACTORS 8 – Shelter (riparo) It is important the direction that the settlement faces, and this is geographically known as aspect. In early settlements, it was important that agricultural land faced south so that the sun shone directly on the land. Building a settlement in a valley provided a way to keep out of harsh winter winds.
Aspect • Aspect relates to the direction in which the land faces. • In the Northern Hemisphere the best slopes to locate on are those that face south, as they will receive the most sunshine, and therefore be best for agriculture. • This can be seen clearly in many of the valleys of the Alps, where settlements have located on the south-facing slopes.
Shelter • Shelter is also very important, particularly from the cold northerly winds and prevailing southwesterly winds in the UK. • A good example of settlements being sheltered by their natural surroundings are the many spring-line settlements found along the base of the chalk escarpments of the North and South Downs. • These settlements would also have benefited from the good water source and fertile farmland nearby.
Water Supply • A supply of water was probably the single most important factor in deciding where a settlement might be located. • Not only do rivers provide a source of clean drinking water, they also provided a food source through fishing, and a transport route. • Most of the world's largest cities are located on rivers, especially the point at which they reach the sea, as this was often the first point that explorers landed.
Dry Point Sites • Water is vital to a settlement and is the most common factor behind their location. • A dry point site is one that is slightly raised from the surrounding area, meaning that it is less likely to flood. • Ely in Norfolk is a good example of this.
Wet Point Sites • This refers to any site that has access to water, usually through being beside a river. • Towns would either grow up along the river or clustered near the point at which the river enters the sea. • Examples of wet point sites include the towns and villages of the Welsh valleys, which tend to extend along the flat valley floor, rather than up the steep valley sides. • Spring line settlements in the North and South Downs are also good examples of wet point sites.
Defence • In medieval times defence was one of the most important factors influencing the site of a settlement. • The relief (shape) of the land often proved to be the best form of defence. • Edinburgh castle sits on the top of a glacial crag, in an almost perfect position to defend itself, with very little chance for the attackers. • In Italy, there are many walled hill-top villages, whilst the Maoris in New Zealand built their settlements (called Pa's) on the top of steep hills to prevent being attacked.
Defence • The other common natural feature used for defence is water, and in particular rivers. • Both Shrewsbury and Durham are very good examples of where a meander of the river has formed an area of land bounded (circondata) by water on three sides. • This provided both cities with excellent defences, as they only had a thin neck of land to defend.
Resources • The idea of resources covers a huge number of different things. • For early settlers the most important resources were fuel, building materialsand food. • Settlements grew in areas where wood was plentiful, stone easily accessible and good soil allowed agriculture to be developed. • Since those early days of settlement many different resources have become the focal points for the growth of urban areas.
Mining • The coal mines of South Wales, Tin mines of Cornwall and large mining projects as seen at Carajas in Northern Brazil, have all encouraged the rapid growth of settlements aimed at housing the workers and providing them with all that they require.
Food, Oil, And Metals • The farming area of East Anglia is one example of how small settlements will locate in areas conducive to good agriculture. • Settlements in Alaska and the Middle East have grown rapidly on the back of the oil industry. • Settlements in South Africa have grown after the discovery of large deposits of precious metals such as gold. The most famous settlement to grow due to finding gold is San Francisco, after the gold rush to California in 1849.
Route Centres • Route centres are often called Nodal Points. • Anywhere where two routes meet has great potential for settlement. • Often these are formed by the meeting of two valleys, but settlement nowadays will grow where two main roads meet. • In the UK, York is a good example of a route centre. • Birmingham also enjoys a very good location, where many routes join up, and this is one of the reasons for its growth to become one of the largest cities in the UK.
Bridging Points • Just as water is very important for drinking, fishing, irrigation and navigation, so the ability to cross the rivers is also very important. • Many towns and cities have built up at points where it was easiest to cross a large river. • Exeter is one such example, crossing the river Exe. • However one of the best examples is Paris in France. • The original town was based on the tiny Ile dela Cite, which is an island in the middle of the River Seine. • This island meant they could build two small bridges across the river rather than one large one.
Benefits • The new settlement also benefited from all the other advantages associated with being beside a river, as well as becoming a route centre due it being one of the only places to cross the river. • Nowadays the island has been engulfed by the huge city that Paris has become, however it does still have many bridges going to it and is the point where the huge Notre Dame Cathedral is built.
The Confluence Has 2 Rivers • Just as two valleys, or roads, make a nodal point for settlement growth, so do two rivers joining. • One such example is found in Khartoum in Sudan, where the Blue and the White Nile meet.
Situation • The situation of a settlement is the description of the settlement in relation to the other settlements and physical features around it. • The situation of a settlement is the most important in determining whether it grows to become a large city or stays as a small town or village. • In the UK, Birmingham is an example of a city with an excellent situation. • It is located central to the country, with excellent links by road to the North and South to London. • As cities begin to fulfil different functions their importance can increase or decrease. • Their situation plays an important part in deciding which of these will occur.
Variation 2: SITUATION The location of a settlement in relation to the surrounding area. E. g. ‘near a bridging point’ or ‘on a route centre’.
Variation 4: FORM The shape of the settlement. There are six forms shown on your handout which will now be covered in detail. Add any extra notes to your sheet.
Variation 3: FUNCTION The purpose for which the settlement grew up. E. g. port, ecclesiastical centre, regional centre, industrial centre, newtown, etc.
Variation 4: FORM 1 – Isolated This is usually a farmhouse found either in areas of extreme adverse physical conditions or in areas of pioneer settlement where land was divided into planned lots.
Variation 4: FORM 2 – Dispersed This consists of 2 - 3 buildings, perhaps forming a hamlet, and separated from the next small group of buildings by 2 - 3 km.
Variation 4: FORM 3 – Nucleated Buildings grouped together, originally for defensive purposes as well as for social and economic reasons. Usually found around a cross-roads
Variation 4: FORM 4 – Loose Knit When houses are built near each other and are obviously in the same settlement, but there is spaces between them. Similar to the nucleated type, but the buildings are not so close together. They are spread out around the settlement.
Variation 4: FORM 5 – Lineated The buildings in this type of settlement are strung out along a road, river, dyke or canal in a line.
Variation 4: FORM 6 – Planned These are near enough to large cities to house the workforce. Tend to contain small crescent shaped estates (complesso abitativo, tenuta) with individual buildings on.
There are many different types of settlement, but these can roughly be divided into rural and urban settlements. Rural Settlements: Settlements that are found in the countryside (rural areas) and contain less than 10,000 residents. Urban Settlements: Settlements that contain more than 10,000 residents. Isolated Building (or dwelling): A single building. An isolated building is normally a farm. Hamlet: A small group of houses, normally about 5 to 10. There is often no services in a hamlet. Village: A settlement of up to 10,000 people. Villages will have some services in them like small shops, a primary school, a doctors surgery, bus routes.
Town: A settlement of over 10,000 people that has not be designated a city. City: A large town, in the UK a town becomes a city when it has a cathedral in it. Capital City: The main administrative centre within a country and the home of the national government. Primate City: The largest and most important city within a country. The primate city will often have double the population of the next most important city. Most of the time the primate city is also the capital city, but there are some famous exceptions e.g. New York, Sydney and Sao Paolo. Conurbation: Two or more towns or cities that have joined to together e.g. Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton in England. Megalopolis: A conurbation or a clustering of cities with a population of over 10 million people e.g. Tokyo.
Hierarchy The hierarchy of a settlement normally depends on three variables: The size of population The range and number of services The sphere of influence Obviously these three variables are very much interconnected. For services to be offered there has to be a minimum threshold population. When services are then offered more people are attracted. As more people are attracted more services are offered and the sphere of influence increases. As you move down the settlement hierarchy the number of settlements increase. For example you only get one capital city (near the top of the hierarchy) in each country, but you get thousands of isolated buildings (farms - near the bottom of the hierarchy) in every country.
PULL FACTORS (Why people are attracted to another place) • Better job opportunities • Electricity and a better standard of living • EDUCATION for themselves and their children – education is seen as the way out of the poverty trap • HOSPITALS – better health care and vaccinations • Feel safe – police force • PUSH FACTORS (Why people leave a particular area) • Disease • To escape a natural disaster • Not enough land to go around • Large family sizes and absence of contraception (condoms,pill) means that there are many unemployed • Crop failure – people are starving so flee to the city to start a new life • Lack of government investment in rurul areas • Heard of friends / family who have “made it” in the city and so go and join them
What Are They? • Settlements can be described as being part of the urban hierarchy. • Where they stand on the hierarchy depends on a number of factors, the main ones being population, the number of services a settlement has and its sphere of influence.
Population • The most obvious way of deciding where a settlement ranks on the urban hierarchy is by using the population of that settlement. • The larger the population, the higher the settlement is placed on the hierarchy. • In the UK, the largest city in terms of population is London, which most people would agree is the most important settlement in the country and so deserves to be placed on the top of the urban hierarchy for the UK.
Population • After that the divisions between what is classified in each layer is a bit more vague. • Different sources will have different numbers for how many people are needed for a place to be called a city rather than a town for instance. • However the most important thing to notice on the diagram is that as you go up the hierarchy, there becomes a lot less of that type of settlement. • So, the diagram shows us that there are huge numbers of isolated farmhouses and hamlets. • There are less villages and small towns and so on.