University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Recycling Roberts and Wrathmell: Building and Analysing the Atlas of Rural Settlement in England GIS
Andrew George Lowerre

Last modified: 2011-12-21


In this paper, I will describe the results of a project to use the maps of rural settlement and terrain published in Brian Roberts and Stuart Wrathmell’s An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England (English Heritage, 2000) to create geo-referenced spatial and attribute data ready for use in geospatial software.

Roberts and Wrathmell’s Atlas has become a key point of departure for investigation into the development of rural settlement in England, the historic character of the landscape, and the nature and development over time of regional diversity. The aim of the project was to enable more effective re-use of Roberts and Wrathmell’s results, as they themselves called for in their original publication. The maps in the printed Atlas were produced digitally, but were created as vector graphics files and cannot be directly incorporated into a GIS. This has curtailed their use in other GIS-based national and regional studies of settlement and landscape in England.

The body of the paper will be in two parts. In the first part, I will outline the process by which the original graphics files supplied by Brian Roberts have been migrated from their original format (Aldus Freehand) to GIS data (Esri shapefiles), as well as KMZ for use in applications such as Google Earth. I will also sketch the project’s scheme for disseminating the data, metadata and documentation produced.

In the second part, I will discuss how I have re-analysed the data on settlement nucleations and dispersion using a range of spatial analytical tools to examine patterns of settlement at a national scale. The methods applied include vector (e.g., cluster analysis) and raster (e.g., Principal Component Analysis) approaches. The results of the new analyses will be compared with Roberts and Wrathmell’s own division of England into settlement provinces, sub-provinces and local regions.

*I would like this paper to be considered for the CAA 2012 Recycle Award.


Data Migration; GIS; Spatial Analysis; Settlement Patterns