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The morphology of settlements
Classification of villages according to their basic morphological features and properties :
According to the ground plans of settlements, cities, villages, and farmsteads can be distinguished. However, in certain cases there are only vague boundaries between these categories from morphological aspects. Most of the villages [in Tolna County, Hungary] exhbited primarily agricultural activities in the studied area up to the 1960s. The morphological characteristics of the villages can be classified as follows :
- Loosely aggregated settlements : sparsely located houses along more or less developed paved or dirt roads ; 17,6% of the total settlements in Tolna Country belongs to this group
- Cluster villages : network of irregularly shaped houses and yards ; characteristic settlement patter in lowlands ; 43,5% of the total settlements in Tolna County belongs to this group
- Checkerboard villages : more organised villages with dominantly straight, parallel and perpedicular streets, surrounding regularly shaped yards and gardens, usually reflecting recently constructed, young settlements ; this type of settlement is located predominantly in Eastern-Tolna County and many have received township status during the past decade
- Settlements with composite ground plans : conventional settlement ground plan, which has been transformed due to social and economical reasons, ignoring geomorphologic aspects
Connection between ground plan types and relief :
In Tolna County, 28 settlements are located in lowlands, 77 in hilly regions, and 2 in uplands at higher elevations. The following regions can be distinguished according to their UNW :
- Geresdi Hills : dominated by small villages in valley locations
- High floodplains (terraces) of the Danube : large cluster villages
- The lowlands of Mez föld : sparse UNW
- Tolnai-Hegyhát : large cluster villages
- Völgység : dense UNW with settlements along highways and roads
- Somogy Hills : cluster villages of different sizes
- River valley of Kapos : large cluster villages
- Mecsek Hills : upland villages with small populations
Geo-informatics and statistical analysis of the settlements of Tolna County according to their geomorphologic characteristics :
We analysed the data of 108 settlements in the studied area. We based our analysis on three measurable morphological properties (maximum elevation, maximum elevation difference, and maximum slope angle) by using 1:10000 maps. The largest slope angle was calculate[d] from the distance of two consecutive contour lines according to the following question :
- e(%) = 100 h / (Mt`)
where e is the angle of the slope in %, h is the distance of two consecutive contour lines (m), and M is the scale of the map used, and t` is the horizontal (distorted) distance between the objects of interest on the map (m).
We classified the settlements into five groups according to their ground plan properties and these groups were compared with relevant physical properties. During the evaluation of the obtained data, SYNTAX2000 software was used, and the results were classified into different groups based on their similarities.
The maximum elevation in the studied area was 255,35 m (Lengyel), and the smallest maximum elevation 89,90 m (Pörböly). The highest measured elevation difference in one village was 93.5 m (Cikó), while the lowest was 2,5 m (Pörböly). The highest angle was 62,5% (Báta), and the smallest was 0,5% at two locations (Pörböly, Sióagárd).
We also studied the spatial distribution and variation of the above mentioned three morphological parameters. Our analysis indicated that there is a strong correlation between the maximum elevation and the elevation difference, but we could not find strong connection regarding the other morphological properties.
The first group has low elevation and small elevation difference. Villages like Báta, Bátaszék, Decs, Gerjen, Kajdacs, Madocsa, Pörböly and Sióagárd belong to this group.
The second group has mixed properties, since they are located at low elevation, but also have considerable elevation differences. The following settlements belong to this group : Dunaföldvár and Paks, for instance, are located on lowlands, but are surrounded by steep (in some cases vertical) loess slopes and walls. Báta, Harc, Kölesd and Tolnanémedi are located on the boundary of lowland and hilly regions.
Interesting results were obtained when the settlement LTAs were compared to the corresponding settlement elevation. The analysis of the maximum slope angle and the ground plan provided valuable results. Based on the literature, and the shape and pattern of their ground plans, settlements of the studied area were classified into five categories :
1. Band-shaped ground plans,
2. Cluster-type ground plans,
3. Chess-table patterns,
4. Loosely aggregated settlements and
5. Composite settlements.
We established the relationship between morphological properties (maximum elevation, maximum elevation difference, and maximum slope angle) and ground plan pattern and shape of the settlements of Tolna County. Based on our analyses we were able to categorise the settlements of the studied area according to the magnitude of the relationship between the above mentioned parameters.
Classification of Tolna County's settlements according to their social and economic functions :
Gyula Prinz was the first geographer who attempted to classify the settlements of the Carpathian Basin in the early 1920s, and his results were further refined by Tibor Mendöl in the 1960s. Pál Beluszky also studied and classified the settlements in Tolna County according to their administrative, social, and economic roles.
1. County capital without large-scale regional functions (Szekszárd).
2. Small-sized towns.
3. Small-sized towns with limited administrative functions.
4. Large villages, with town-like characteristics and infrastructure.
The majority of the social geographical literature classifies settlements based on their administrative, economic and social functions.
Rural Germany - genesis, change, regional types of settlements :
The functional classification of the villages of Tolna County :
Pál Beluszky was one of the initiators of the functiional classification methodology of villages during the mid-60s. Villages were categorised according to their economic functions and their role in the UNW. ...
(1) Agricultural village ;
(2) Industrial village with residential function ;
(3) Village with pure administrative and tertiary functions ;
(4) Village with administrative and tertiary and with additional residential functions ;
(5) Residential village ;
(6) Village with combined agricultural and residential functions ;
(7) Residential village with administrative and tertiary functions ;
(8) Residential village with miscellaneous secondary functions ;
(9) Village with miscellaneous functions.
- De-urbanisation is less pronounced in Tolna County, due largely to the lack of large urban agglomerations and the large proportion of villages with residential functions.
- Villages with pure residential functions. The proportion of commuters is higher than 65%. Thirthy-six villages belong to this category, which is 36% of the villages in the county.
- Villages with combined agricultural and residential functions. The proportion of commuters is 50% to 65%. The proportion of the primary-sector employees is above 50%. Four villages belong to this category. These villages have relatively small population numbers.
- Residential villages with administrative and tertiary functions. The proportion of commuters is between 50 and 65%. The proportion of the locally employed tertiary employees is above 50%. Twelve villages belong to this category.
- Residential villages with miscellaneous secondary functions. The proportion of commuters is 50 to 65%. The proportion of the people employed locally in each sector is less than 50%. Eight villages, with very different geographical and economic attributes belong to this category.
We were not able to delegate 12% of the villages in the county to any of the 24 categories. Fifty per cent of the residents of these unclassifiable villages are employed locally and the proportion of employees in each employment sector (agricultural, industrial, and tertiary) is less than 50%. Certainly, the majority of these villages could be classified into one of the 24 categories, based on the relative dominance of a particular function. However this classification would distort the overall conclusions and results, as certain functions would be over-emphasised and others would be underestimated.
As the literature does not provide one final and overall applicable definition of the term, it is not easy to wholly define an area with rural character. According to the Federal Planning Law (Bundesraumordnungsgesetz), this geographical term characterizes all those areas which cannot be described as urban centres and where farming  characterizes the physiognomy of both the landscape and its settlements.
This unit cannot deal with all possible questions asked in connection with rural areas. Thus, it focuses on some of the essential features of rural settlements in Central Europe and outlines their development within its historic context and their specific typology. The first settlements date back to the Neolithic Age. Thereafter, it is safe to speak of continuously inhabited settlements especially in the favoured locations of Central Europe. However, for various reasons, the mountainous regions always saw strong fluctuation in this respect.
Only with the help of the working methods of archaeologists can the early phase of this development be reconstructed. Considerable numbers of findings and relicts date back to the first pre-Christian millennium. The agricultural land of the first Germanic settlers has rightly been described by Born (1957) as block- or chamber-shaped (Celtic fields). Our knowledge today of their real places of settlement is still scarce. In the area of the Roman Decumatland, characterized by a closely-knit network of villas and estates of different sizes within an area shaped in the Centuriate system - regular cultivated agricultural land - indications are more concrete. However, many traces of these early historical settlements were lost in the course of the migration of the peoples and the destruction which went with it.
The year 496 marks a new beginning when the Franconian Age begins with the establishment of the Merowingian Empire. In the course of the Franconian acquisition of land the favoured locations in Central Europe in particular saw the foundation of a wealth of isolated farms which in the course of time developed into groups of farms - hamlets - or villages, most frequent was the clustered village type of settlement.
Settlements from this particular period can easily be identified by the respective endings of their names. These names either referred to the place of settlement (-house, -village, etc.) or to the topography ( -valley, -mountain). In the Franconian Age new settlements were preferably founded on land which had already been cultivated by man. In these areas - so-called “old settlement-areas“ - settlements were considerably more condensed than elsewhere. In the lower locations of the Central Uplands the first clearings were carried out.
Clearings became most frequent during the Middle Ages (10th - 12th century) when population figures rose quickly and both the gentry and the monastery-based clergy made every effort to acquire and cultivate new land in order to enlarge their economic basis. Especially in the Central Uplands the acquisition of new and followed a clearing plan. This so-called planned colonization led to regular forms of settlements and a regular layout of the new land with Hufensiedlungen (villages arranged in a straight line with strips of farmland extending behind each house) being the most characteristic and fairly wide-spread form of settlement in the mountainous regions of Central Europe.
In the Eastern part of Central Europe, the development was somewhat different. The sparsely populated areas east of the Elbe and Saale rivers and east of the Bohemian Forest, where mostly Slav people had settled since the days of the migration of the peoples, were now systematically colonized in the course of the so-called Ostbewegung  (colonization of the East). The respective lords of the manor - the clergy or the gentry - recruited settlers from the West. This task was carried out by the so-called Lokatoren. In East Prussia, the Teutonic Order of Knights  played an important part in this process of development (foundation of the Teutonic Order state). The new settlements were either founded on wholly undeveloped land or in the vicinity of already existing Slav settlements. Regular forms of settlement were once again characteristic in this area with the majority being linear street villages and villages built around a village green (Angerdörfer). In general, the land acquired for new settlements in the Middle Ages is called Jungsiedelland.
By the end of the Middle Ages, the cultivated land covered more space due to these factors than ever before or ever after. The mid-14th century already sees a dramatic fall in the number of settlements due to epidemics , wars, etc. which results in a decrease of Germany's population by around 40% in the late Middle Ages. About one third of all settlements are deserted. This period of desertion which was not overcome until the early 16th century has to be described as the most important break in the settlement history of Central Europe.
One final acquisition period is linked to absolutism. The early Modern Age once again sees clearings, however, not comparable in size and scale to those of the Middle Ages. Most importantly, during the 16th century the spatial distribution of rural settlements changed again, a development which is partly linked to noticeable social changes. In particular in the North and East of Germany the foundation of estates becomes wide-spread. This process lasts through the 17th and the 18th century when the absolutistic sovereigns forced the aquisition of new land, the so-called guided absolutistic colonization. Most typical of the period is the aquisition of the North German fens and marshland which also saw regular forms of both settlements and cultivated land.
The picture of Central European settlements is highly complex due to the historic context and the various stages of development. Additional modifying factors are the cultural background, the provided building material, ethnic influences and functional criteria. Correspondingly, a wide range of aspects for the systematic registration of settlements in rural areas exists. In general, size, the form of ground plans and the density of development are the most important criteria.
With regard to size, a clear differentiation has to be made between solitary settlements on the one hand, and group settlements on the other. Solitary settlements only consist of a single farm which may, however, have several buildings. If several farms are arranged loosely together, they form a hamlet. A village usually has additional functional buildings, such as a church, a school, a city hall, etc. Solitary settlements are often found in the Allgäu region and in most parts of Northern Germany. Clustered group villages are most frequent in the state of Hessen and what is today the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The ground plan of a settlement is formed by the positions of every single building and their situation towards streets, streams and squares. Linear settlements were often founded on the banks of a river or along the course of a valley. The individual farms are strung together in this particular form of settlement. In most cases paths led directly from the farmsteads to the fields, e.g., if it was a village arranged in a straight line with strips of farmland extending behind each house (Hufensiedlung), namely the Waldhufendorf (forest village) or the Marschhufendorf (marshland village). These forms of settlement derive from the clearing- and colonization-period of the Middle Ages. A street is the central element of a linear village. Alongside it the farms are strung together. This particular form of settlement was mostly founded during the colonization of the East. At the same time many villages of the Platzsiedlungs-type were also founded. Here the individual buildings are situated around a central square, e.g. in the case of the so-called Rundling (photo ; ground plans). Platzsiedlungen  of a bigger size are called Angerdorf  (village built around a village green, the name comes from the word “Anger“ which means the central square where the church and the school were often erected.) As a rule, it has to be pointed out that Platzsiedlungen do not have parcels of land adjoining to the farmsteads, but that they have a dispersed field pattern (so-called Gewannflur mit Gemengelage).
Remarkable regional differences can be identified with regard to the density of building, a term which simply specifies the distance between individual buildings. In the South-West of Germany where for centuries the principles of the so-called Realteilungsrecht – a law of inheritance – which meant subdividing a farm according to the numer of heirs, were implemented, the village buildings stand particularly close together. Within the village's structure, division and supplementing of buildings were very common. In regions with the so-called Anerbenrecht - law of inheritance - which meant that an entire farm was handed over to just one heir, the density of building was considerably lower. The Streusiedelgebiete in the North of Germany have by far the lowest density rate with regard to buildings.
The most common German form of settlement is the Haufendorf or clustered village which usually has an irregular ground plan form. This irregularity is the result of a long-lasting growth process. Therefore, clustered villages are rightly labelled as “grown settlements“. Those settlements with a regular ground plan form were in general the result of a planned decision of a so-called Kolonisationsträger, a term which aims at the clergy, the gentry or the sovereigns who ordered the aquisition of new land. These settlements are therefore also called “planned settlements“ and were often built over only a short period of time within a specific colonization phase.
Generally speaking, the ground plan forms of rural settlements provide only little information about the social structure of the rural communities, however, there is always room for interpretation. The conclusion can be drawn that the uniform bog or marsh villages arranged in a straight line with strips of farmland extending behind each house (Hufensiedlung) had a socially balanced population structure. The situation in the so-called grown settlements with its manifold house- and farm-types has to be seen in a different light as the various building-types clearly mirror the social situation of the rural inhabitants. However, there are big regional differences in Central Europe with regard to the social situation of the people and a sweeping statement here seems inappropriate.
As far as the form of houses and farms  is concerned, some basic criteria exist to differentiate one from another. These are: the size, the shape of the buildings, the locations, if various functions can take place in just one building or are spread over various buildings, the number of floors, the number of buildings, more specifically, the question whether a farmstead consists of only one building (Einheitshof) or has several. In the case of an Einheitshof, living and working space are united under one roof.
Noticeable in this context are the great regional differences of the structural form. In the South of Germany a solitary farm is often called Ernhaus. A typical example here is the so-called 'Schauinslandhaus'  which can be seen in the open-air museum at Gutach. It is most common in the Black Forest area and the foothills of the Alps. Living and working space are situated diagonally  to the ridge of the building. The opposite phenomenon occurs in the North of Germany where the various rooms are situated in longitudinal direction  to the ridge (Niederdeutsches Hallenhaus , Gulfhaus , Haubarg ). In the case of the Mehrbauhof the buildings are separated by their various functions with stables and working quarters on the one hand and the living space on the other. Mehrbauhöfe in the North  and in the South  of Germany also have noticeable architectural differences. Additionally, regularly and irregularly shaped farmsteads (Streuhof, Haufenhof) can be distinguished from each other. The most common Central European farm-type is the regular, planned, Franconian or Central European farmstead which is built as Zweiseit-, Dreiseit-  and also as Vierseithof . The farm is in most cases fenced off towards the street by a gate.
Summing up, it can be said that the rural settlements are a characteristic element of the human landscape in Germany. Many traditional features were lost in the course of the deep structural changes over the last century which strongly affected all rural areas. Today's rural people have only very little in common with the agrarian population of the past. The settlement's functions are much more diverse today. Today's rural settlements provide housing for a non-agrarian society, trade and industries have moved in and some rural settlements have been turned into health resorts and the like. This transformation process has also sharpened our knowledge of the cultural value of these historic sites. Many communities make every possible effort to prevent their traditional assets from falling apart and preserve them for coming generations by joining a so-called “village-restoration-programme“ .
See also :
- Developing a New Classification of Urban and Rural Areas for Policy Purposes - the Methodology