JC Settlement Factors

Settlement Periods in Ireland

  1.  Neolithic                                                8000BC
  2. Iron Age/Celtic/Pre-Christian                   500BC-500AD
  3. Early Christian                                       500AD-800AD
  4. Late Christian                                        800AD-1200AD (*)
  5. Medieval                                               1200AD-1560’sAD
  6. Early Modern/Plantation                          1560’sAD-1703AD
  7. Georgian                                               1703AD-1837AD
  8. Victorian                                                1837AD-1901AD
  9. Edwardian                                             1901AD-1920/30AD
  10. Modern                                                 1930’sAD-1960’sAD
  11. Contemporary                                        1960/1970AD –Present

Pre-Christian Settlement in Ireland 

  1.  First settlers to Ireland arrived about 8000BC
  2.  Travelled across land bridges from Britain
    1. Water
    2. Communications
    3. Food
    4. Defence
  4. They chose locations to live based on these needs

Factors affecting the Location of Pre-Christian settlement in Ireland

What kinds of things made pre-Christian settlers live in certain areas? 


Early settlers needed water

  1. Earliest Settlement was on coasts
  2. Inland Rivers and Lakes
  3. Provided Freshwater for cooking, cleaning and drinking
  4.  Fish


Early settlers needed to move around

  1. Ireland was covered in forest
  2.  Rivers allowed access to inland locations and lakes
  3. An escape route during danger


Early settlers needed to find food

  1. First settlers were HUNTERS AND GATHERERS
  2. Riverside locations were ideal  – food, water
  3. Forests provided nuts and berries
  4.  Late neolithic settlers were farmers
    1. used wooden ploughs
    2. needed land that was well drained, fertile, had light soils
    3. Chose hill top locations, close to rivers


Early settlers needed to defend themselves

  1.  Hill top locations allowed a view of the surrounding landscape
  2.  Early house sites were enclosed
  3.  Neolithic – stone wall enclosures
  4. Iron Age/Early Christian
  5. Cashels – stone walls
  6. Crannogs – surrounded by lake
  7. Raths – surrounded by ditch and palisade

 Factors affecting the Location of NUCLEATED Settlement in Ireland

 Why are nucleated settlements located in certain places in Ireland?

 Two types of influences on location of Irish Settlement

 Social Factors

  1. Historical nucleated settlement in Ireland
  2. The Primacy of Dublin

 Physical Geography Factors

  1. Land Quality
  2. Drainage
  3. Altitude

 Social Factors

 Historical Settlement 

Viking Towns – Linear distribution pattern (in a line along the east coast of Ireland)

(note:  all towns are nucleated settlements)

  1. The first towns in Ireland were founded (built) by Vikings
  2. Vikings arrived in Ireland by ship
  3. They traded all over Europe
  4. They founded the first Irish Towns on coasts 
  5.  This made trade easier

Examples include Dublin, Wexford and Waterford

  1. These towns had permanent populations. 
  2. They were enclosed by walls separating them from the countryside
  3. They were centres of trade and commerce. 
  4. Manufacturing was practiced also and they had their own parliaments.

 The Primacy of Dublin

 Dublin is the largest City in Ireland.  It is also a PRIMATE CITY

 A Primate city is one which has a population more than twice the size of the next largest city. Dublin has a population of over 900,000 people while Cork, the next largest city, has less than 200,000 people.

 Dublin has become so populated because

  1. It was the centre of English Administration in Ireland
  2. History of in-migration after the Famine continued to the present day
  3. Continued as the Capital City after independence in 1921
  4. Government Departments and Civil Service are concentrated here
  5. Is a focus point of all the major transport routes in Ireland e.g. Dublin Airport is the largest in Ireland
  6. Attracts most new businesses investing in Ireland
  7. Has a huge variety of services –entertainment, schools, hospitals, Colleges and Universities

These characteristics encourage people, especially young people, to move to Dublin

 Effects of Dublin’s Primacy

Many satellite towns*  near and around Dublin have grown larger as a result of Dublin’s importance as a centre of Government, services  and industry e.g. Leixlip, Lucan, Clondalkin, Tallaght and Swords. These have grown so large that they are now merging with Dublin.

*  A satellite town is a town that exists outside but near to a large city.

 Physical Geography Factors

 1.  Land Quality

Nucleated settlement is found in areas with fertile soils eg. Anglo-Norman Settlement

  1. Anglo-Normans arrived in Ireland in 1169
  2. Grew crops – wheat, barley, oats
  3. Pollen record shows a massive tree clearance and huge increase in crop production

 The Anglo-Normans wanted fertile land

  1. Built Motte and Bailey settlements in fertile areas
  2. Dispersed throughout Leinster – Brown soils common here
  3. Stone castles replaced Motte and Bailey structures
      1. Became the focus point for the development of Anglo-Norman towns in Leinster
      2. Provided defence and a protected market place
      3. Usually commanded a river crossing
      4. e.g Carlow, Kilkenny

 2.  Altitude

Irish settlement occurs most commonly in lowland areas below the 300m contour

  Avoids highland

  1. Cold, wet, exposed to strong winds
  2.  Absence of route-ways therefore inaccessible
  3. Difficult to farm
  4.  Slopes are difficult to build on

 Attracted to lowlands

  1. Warmer, drier, sheltered
  2. Gentle or no slopes
  3.  Easier to farm and build on
  4.   More accessible
  5.   Variety of routeways
  6. Railways and canals must follow gentle gradients

 3.  Drainage

 The location of settlement is also affected by drainage patterns.

Settlement is found at

 Riverside locations

  1.  Supply of clean water for cooking, cleaning, drinking
  2. Transport
  3. Waterford, Wexford, Dublin, Drogheda

 Dry Point Sites

  1.  Settlement located on lowlying hills (knolls)
  2. To escape periodic flooding
  3. Found in areas where drainage is poor e.g. Bog of Allen

 Lowest Bridging Points

  1. The lowest point on a river where a bridge can be built (near the mouth of a river but before the estuary)
  2. Bridge becomes a focus point of routeways
  3. Bridge acts as a crossing point attracting road transport
  4. Attracts settlement
  5. Encourages trade and commerce
  6. All coastal towns – Dublin, Cork, Galway etc.