[Tagging] dispersed settlements / scattered settlements

Jerry Clough - OSM sk53_osm at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jun 16 13:50:12 UTC 2017

We have plenty of examples of dispersed/scattered settlement patterns which have been mapped without having to worry about lack of tags: more or less the entire Celtic fringe of NW Europe (Brittany, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, Scottish Highlands) shows this settlement pattern. The nucleated towns of Ireland & Wales being introduced by settlers (invaders?) such as Vikings or Anglo-Saxons. In addition many mining areas in Wales show a later dispersed settlement pattern. The medieval administrative units (parishes) which have often ended up as contemporary admin units often have little correspondence with the actual settlement pattern and thus defining boundaries for toponyms may be difficult.
The exception, of course, are townlands in Ireland.. These are ancient bounded land units which are the primary descriptive toponyms in much or rural Ireland. These are all mapped as place=locality, but with an additional attributive tag locality=townland. I would see this as a precedent, and one could envisage locality=dispersed_settlement.
However, looking at Wales and Brittany, I think the nature of dispersed settlement is to create a finer grain of toponymy. Many villages in Wales which these days appear nucleated have origins as rather dispersed places, a good example which I know well is Llanfair PG on Anglesey. Within living memory (mine) the parts of the settlement were known as Pentre Uchaf & Pentre Isaf (Upper & Lower), and I think it's likely that many local toponyms of this sort were not recorded by map makers. Elsewhere in Wales places where members of the family lived tend to be referred to either by the name of the village/parish or by the name of the farm/house. For the most part the latter are not true toponyms in Britain.
In Brittany there are even signposts showing how to find all the localities of a commune in the chef-lieu (I have photos of some with perhaps 60 or so place names). These days many can be suitably tagged with place=hamlet, place=locality or possibly place=isolated_dwelling. Once again changes in the past 40 years or so obscure some of the more obvious features of these places (i.e., places which had a few farmsteads and no mains water or sanitation in the 1970s are now lived in by commuters).
In summary: we have an excellent source of mapped dispersed settlements in Europe; absence of any specific tags for such places has only slightly impeded mapping (although perhaps a rigorous insistence on locality having no population may make it harder); there are reasonable precedents (townlands.ie) for using a locality tag to add further information; and, lastly, the relationship between zoonyms, admin boundaries and settlements is likely to be complex in such places requiring good local & historical knowledge.
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      From: Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com>
 To: "Tag discussion, strategy and related tools" <tagging at openstreetmap.org> 
 Sent: Friday, 16 June 2017, 11:25
 Subject: Re: [Tagging] dispersed settlements / scattered settlements

sent from a phone

> On 16. Jun 2017, at 11:45, Warin <61sundowner at gmail.com> wrote:
> A minimum of 10 residential dwellings

I'd set the minimum as 2-3 (above isolated dwelling)

> each separated from the others by at least 500 meters, with a maximum overall area of 5 square kilometres

for me they don't have to be _each_ separated and there mustn't be a minimum distance, it's sufficient that they don't form a nucleus. I'd also not limit this by any maximum area, the criterion is that there is a name for the ensemble.

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