►1 - Protection
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.
Climatically, these settlements were prone
to wind and harsher weather.
►2 – Plenty of Water
drinking and cooking all need
water, and it was vital to have an adequate
supply especially during the summer.
Springs, wells and rivers provided supplies.
Nowadays, settlements have water piped to
them, but it is still a consideration to be near
to the mains supply or in a region that
actually has adequate rainfall to sustain a
►3 – Not Too Much Water
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
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
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
as important today, but early
settlements would need wood for fuel. It
was therefore vital that the settlement was
►7 – Flat Land
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
►8 – Shelter
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
The location of a settlement in
relation to the surrounding area.
E. g. ‘bridging point’ or ‘route