What Is Nucleated Settlement?

Have you ever wondered why towns are organized in certain ways? Some types of town layouts, or settlement patterns, result from how their original settlements were planned or not. A nucleated settlement is a type of settlement pattern that features a close grouping of buildings. These buildings are often gathered around a central feature like a river or town square.

What Is a Nucleated Settlement?

Nucleated settlements are towns or cities that start out with a plan. Buildings in a nucleated settlement group around a central location. These locations are not limited to man-made edifices like town halls. They can also include roadways, bodies of water and even hilltops.

Many nucleated settlements are located in the United Kingdom. Some settlements include Cardiff, which is organized around a castle. Taff's Well in Wales is situated alongside the River Taff. Nucleated settlements have also developed in lowland areas and at crossroads.

Different Types of Settlements

Nucleated settlements aren’t the only types of settlements. Other types of settlements include linear settlements and dispersed settlements. As the name indicates, linear settlements are built along a line. These lines are often features, such as roads, that predate settlement in that particular area. Linear settlements can also form along coastlines.

Dispersed settlements represent a third type of settlement pattern. In dispersed settlements, houses and other buildings are more spread out. This type of settlement is more common in rural areas where land is used for agriculture.

Advantages of Nucleated Settlements

In nucleated settlements, people live close to their neighbors. This proximity makes communication quicker and easier than in linear and dispersed settlements. Because people are closer together, it is also easier to perform joint tasks such as the buying and selling of goods and services. Creating a centralized governing body also becomes a more simplified process because of the proximity of people to important locations in their settlement.

Disadvantages of Nucleated Settlements

Disadvantages of nucleated settlements also spring from the same feature as their advantages: the closeness of people and edifices. When kept in close proximity, more competition is created among individuals, and some resources, like food, water or land can become stretched. Nucleated settlements can also edge out farmland, requiring some goods to be transported into the settlement center for trade. Also due to the close proximity of living arrangements in nucleated settlements, infectious diseases spread more easily than in other types of settlements. Unsanitary conditions, such as the lack of planned sewer systems, also contribute to disease progression within nucleated settlements.