Settlement forms and community structures

Helena Hamerow

in Rural Settlements and Society in Anglo-Saxon England

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199203253
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741760 | DOI:

Series: Medieval History and Archaeology

Settlement forms and community structures

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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The chapter first reviews the difficulties involved in establishing settlement layout. This is followed by a discussion of how settlement forms changed during the Anglo-Saxon period from unenclosed, dispersed settlements to more nucleated forms often characterized by enclosures. The distinction between rural and urban forms is discussed as is the relationship between Late Saxon and ‘medieval’ village layouts. Changes in layout are seen as reflecting changes in farming which would have encouraged the establishment of communal systems of enclosures. It is argued that the appearance of regular layouts from the Mid Saxon period onwards suggests a degree of legal control and, in some cases, the passing down of properties across several generations. The role of lordship in the creation of nucleated layouts is discussed along with the difficulties of defining the status of particular settlements. The conclusion discusses the emergence and characteristics of high-status settlements post c.600.

Keywords: settlement layout; settlement shift; rectilinear settlements; enclosed settlement; planned settlements; settlement status

Chapter.  15473 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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