What Is a Settlement Pattern?

A settlement pattern refers to the way that buildings and houses are distributed in a rural settlement. Settlement patterns are of interest to geographers, historians, and anthropologists for the insight they offer in how a community has developed over time.


In a linear settlement pattern, the buildings are arranged in lines. These lines often follow the route of a road or body of water. Linear settlements tend to develop because of the convenience of proximity with a transport route.


In a dispersed settlement pattern, the buildings are scattered over a wide area. Dispersed settlement patterns are often associated with agricultural activity and are frequently surrounded by farmland.


In a nucleated settlement pattern, the buildings are grouped around a central core. In England, this core is often a village green or church. Nucleated settlement patterns are usually associated with patterns of agriculture in which the settlement is surrounded by two or three fields, and each field divided into strips that were farmed by individual farmers.