Site and situation

Settlements are places where people live. Many settlements have things in common and so they can be grouped to make it easier to study them.

Site - this is the place where the settlement is located, eg on a hill or in a sheltered valley.

Situation - this describes where the settlement is in relation to other settlements and the features of the surrounding area, eg is the settlement surrounded by forest or is it next to a large city?

Early settlements

Early settlers often looked for certain features in an area to make life easier:

  • flat land, to make building easier and safer
  • local raw materials, eg wood and stone, to build homes
  • a local water supply for drinking, washing, cooking and transport
  • dry land, so that people could build on areas that don't flood
  • a defendable site, eg a hilltop or river bend, to protect from attackers
  • good farm land with fertile soils, so people could grow crops
  • shelter, eg to protect from bad weather
  • transport links, eg a ford or low crossing point of a river


Which of the four highlighted areas on the graphic below is the best site for a settlement? Select your preferred site to see if you're right.