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Glossary of terms

When researching the site, I found little to help me online which wasn't academic (often hidden by a paywall or otherwise) in interpreting the form of the medieval town, its units and the layout of these. As a crucial primer, I was pointed to M. R. G. Conzen's classic study Alnwick Northumberland: a study in town-plan analysis, published in 1960. This seminal work pretty much defined the spatial analysis of townscape in morphological and temporal terms and provided me with a significant leap in my understanding of burgage plots and their origins.

As part of the study and in a later edition of the study published in 1969, Conzen defined a number of terms which provide a crucial shorthand to understanding the area. These have been collated together with many others related to urban form here, with references by the International Seminar on Urban Form (ISUF) whose aim is to promote the subject of urban morphology, encourage research on urban form and provide opportunities for contact between members and with other organisations. 

I have listed the most useful terms which pertain most particularly to burgage plots and early town development together with a few which relate to the architecture of medieval buildings, below. In addition there is a further very useful glossary here, which is focused on the terminology specific to the medieval town.

Accretion - Conzenian terminology
"A peripheral addition to the built-up area of a town generally consisting of a non-traditional plan- unit and forming a component of either a residential integument or a fringe belt" (Conzen, 1969, p. 123).


Adaptive redevelopment - Conzenian terminology
A redevelopment of a plot, or series of plots, within the existing street system without the introduction of new streets (Conzen, 1960, pp. 69, 95, 123).

Agricultural residual - Conzenian terminology
Areas of agricultural land that have become surrounded by urban development. These often form part of the, usually open, middle and outer fringe belts or the intervening residential integuments (Conzen, 1960, pp. 81, 123).

Block plan of a building - Conzenian terminology
"The area occupied by a building and defined on the ground by the lines of its containing walls. Loosely defined as the `building' in town-plan analysis. It is a plan element" (Conzen, 1969, p. 123). This should not be confused with the building plan.

Break-through street - Conzenian terminology - street type
A street constructed to link two or more existing streets. These were particularly common in the early-C19th: the era of transport innovations. A break-through street may involve the demolition of building fabric and dissection of a plan-unit.

Building line - Conzenian terminology - planning terminology
A line, usually roughly parallel to the street-line, which follows the alignment of building front walls. In central areas the building line is often the street line. In most residential areas the building line is set behind front gardens. The Conzenian building line is an "irregular geographical ... line" (1969, p. 123) and is distinct from the line introduced by town planners to control the siting of new buildings (Conzen, 1960, p. 32). The French equivalent is known as alignement, controlled since an edict of Henri IV in 1607, and codified by Napoleonic legislation in 1807 (Sutcliffe, 1981, p. 128).

Building pattern - Conzenian terminology
In town-plan analysis, this is "the arrangement of existing buildings, ie their block-plans in a built- up area viewed as a separate element complex of the town plan" (Conzen, 1969, p. 123).

From Lat. burgagium. "The urban strip-plot held by a burgess in a medieval borough and charged with a fixed annual rent as a contribution to the borough farm (firma burgi) or a communal borough tax of the town" (Conzen, 1969, p. 123). "Defined in legal terms as a property unencumbered with manorial services which could be bought, sold or bequeathed freely without reference to any manorial authority" (Bond, 1990). In the North of England the plots were also called 'rigs' and 'tofts' in Scotland (tofts are also mentioned in East Anglia). In Ireland they were called 'buiríos'.

Burgage analysis - method of analysis
In form, burgages are long and narrow. Conzen (1969, pp. 31-33) suggests from empirical evidence a `normal' English burgage width as some 28-32ft. Burgages may be analysed using both geometric and metrological means. Recent metrological analysis suggests that burgages were regularly planned and laid out according to statute measures (rods, poles, perches) (Slater, 1981, 1988, 1990c). Various types of burgage can be distinguished 

Burgage series
Series, usually a row, of similar burgages. A convenient unit for burgage analysis; may be a plan- unit. See the example of Lower Broad Street, Ludlow in Slater (1990c, pp. 71-72).


Burgage tenure - interest in land
A form of tenure found in boroughs (legally defined) by which all forms of service were commuted to a fixed money rent. This tenure was probably of French, not Anglo-Saxon, origin. Free burgage tenure paid a fixed annual rent, and rendered no services (Adams, 1976, p. 15).

Burh - settlement type
The term originally referred to any fortification, but is customarily reserved for large forts built by kings. They were thus defensive strongholds, many acted as centres of Royal administration, and during the period of fortification there was also an urbanising process, not always centered upon the burh sites themselves (Dyer, 1988, pp. 72-76). Thus, Old English word for a town, used especially of the fortified towns of Alfred's time (871-899) and later. The legal difference between town, burh and borough is problematic (Petit-Dutaillis and Lefebvre, 1930). In Europe, the similar word burgum was often used for the burgesses' part of a town (Brooke and Kier, 1975, p. ix).


Closed building development - Conzenian terminology
"The arrangement of plot dominants in rows or terraces of more than eight houses" (Conzen, 1969, p. 124).

Complementary building development - Conzenian terminology
"Retarded building development taking place on parcels of unbuilt land within an otherwise built- up area and completing the plan-unit of that area. It often results in architectural incongruence" (Conzen, 1969, p. 124). These parcels of unbuilt land may include agricultural residuals, plots that have been previously unattractive for development, or open spaces within the urban fabric. This is a sub-set of new building.

Consequent streets - Conzenian terminology - street type
"An annular street or set of streets developing along an antecedent fixation line as the site successor of a previous topographical feature of linear extent such as a line of fortification" (Conzen, 1969, p. 124).

Pertaining to, or characteristic of, an adherent of the doctrines of M.R.G. Conzen (see Whitehand [Ed.], 1981, chaps. 1,6, 1987a especially Fig. 1, 1987b).

Copyhold - interest in land
A form of tenure in which title was substantiated by the tenant's ability to produce a copy of the legal document (eg entry in court roll) noting acquisition of the property. It developed from later medieval villein tenures, and was widespread by the Tudor period (Adams, 1976, p. 15).


Curtilage - planning terminology
An area attached to a building (usually a dwelling-house) as part of its enclosure. In most cases, the plot is coterminous with the curtilage.

Derivative plot - Conzenian terminology
"A secondary plot carved from a parent plot by partition" (Conzen, 1969, p. 124). This division may be by truncation, medial division or other form of partition: Examples of derived plots in the modern residential townscape are given by Jones et al. (1988, pp. 13-17).

Element complex - Conzenian terminology
"The totality of plan elements of one particular kind in a town plan viewed separately from others. There are three element complexes, ie the street system, the plot pattern and the building pattern" (Conzen, 1969, p. 125). These three elements are central to the Conzenian analysis and the delineation of regions for the purposes of townscape management (Conzen, 1975, p. 95 et seq., 1988).

Buildings taking up land formerly part of a street or market place (concretion). "On the subject of encroachments on streets and lanes, there is Oxford evidence for cellars partly underlying lanes and suggesting that house-fronts had actually been pushed back at some later date. At Winchester, certainly, lanes were indeed kept open by municipal fiat. However, although fines for encroachments were common enough in medieval borough records, there is little to establish either that the fines were paid or that the encroachments were successful. Evidence was cited of successful and extensive encroachments at Lincoln, Stamford and York" (Platt, 1976b, p. 56). For examples in London, see Brooke and Kier (1975).


Outside the town walls: hence extra-mural suburb; extra-mural street. Such development may occur because pressure on land within the walls is too great, or because further development is not permitted there. Contrast with intra-mural.

Freehold - interest in land
An absolute interest in land or property; ownership. The superior interest in such property, the notion of a paramount seignory essential to early feudal tenures, is little more than a subject of convention (Adams, 1976, p. 17).


Frontage - Conzenian terminology
The interface between main access street or waterway with the boundary of a plot. It is measured as the length of street line taken up by it (Conzen, 1960, p. 31). In the U.S., `front-feet' are sometimes used an a measure for apportioning assessments. A metrological analysis of burgage frontages in medieval towns (Slater, 1981) demonstrates that this division of plots reveals much about town development and the stability of plot frontage widths within planned extensions.



Genius loci - Conzenian usage
"The genius or guardian spirit of a place", used by Conzen (eg 1975, p. 82) to indicate the character of a location. Apparently synonymous with the more popular term `spirit of place' (eg Ford, 1974). Occasionally used by planners and architects (Esher, 1988).

Geometrical analysis - method of analysis
Analysis of plots, particularly medieval burgages, with especial reference to relative proportions of width and length (Slater, 1988, 1990c, pp. 74-77).

High street - street type
Main street of a (usually) smaller town; sometimes widened to form a street market; street name sometimes persists in larger towns and cities, but the function may have changed.
High-street layout - Conzenian terminology
"A medieval plan-unit showing traditional, long strip plots or deep burgages arranged in series on either side of a major traffic street widened to provide a street market (Ger. `strassenmarkt')" (Conzen, 1969, p. 126).



A jetty is an upper floor that depends on a cantilever system in which a horizontal beam, the jetty bressummer, supports the wall above and projects forward beyond the floor below (a technique also called oversailing). The bressummer (or breastsummer) itself rests on the ends of a row of jetty beams or joists which are supported by jetty plates. Jetty joists in their turn were slotted sideways into the diagonal dragon beams at angle of 45° by means of mortise and tenon joints.


(jetty, jutty, from Old French getee, jette)[1] is a building technique used in medieval timber-frame buildings in which an upper floor projects beyond the dimensions of the floor below. This has the advantage of increasing the available space in the building without obstructing the street. 

Kernel - Conzenian terminology
"The centre of a town formed by the earliest, frequently traditional and especially medieval, plan units, often referred to as the Old Town [Ger. `Altstadt'; Polish `stare miasto']. A number of such plan units form a composite kernel" (Conzen, 1969, p. 126).

(1)vernacular To spread or display; to dispose of (grounds etc) according to a plan (OED).
(2)Conzenian terminology) "A plan-unit showing an arrangement of streets, plots and building based on a unified design. It may be a residential, industrial or institutional layout" (Conzen, 1969, p. 126. The term `layout' is usually applied to a planned area, usually an accretion to the historic kernel, or as part of a more extensive fringe belt (Conzen, 1960, pp. 71-73).

Major traffic street - Conzenian terminology - street type
"A street carrying regional traffic into and through the built-up area of a town" (Conzen, 1969, p. 126) (Ger. `Verkehrsstrasse', hist. Fr. `carrire'). Many such streets, having been thoroughfares since the medieval period, have been by-passed by new roads skirting the kernel as modern traffic flows become excessive.

A gathering of people for the sale and purchase of provisions, livestock etc. In the medieval period, the acquisition of the right to hold markets, although not a guarantee of success, was vital to the growth of towns, particularly planned/planted towns. The creation or, more frequently, confirmation of market privileges by the monarch was often the first step towards borough status, was part of the general urbanising process, and reached its peak under Henry II and Edward I (Platt, 1976a, p. 31; See Beresford, 1967). For a central European example of the influence of the market in early urbanisation, see Schlesinger (1985).

Market colonisation
Process whereby market places were occupied by buildings. This usually took the form of temporary market stalls acquiring a permanent status and being replaced by permanent buildings; characterised by not having plots other than the land actually occupied by the building itself. SEE: concretion; encroachment A further stage of colonisation is the development of a market hall as market functions expand. Other features of colonisation are the market church and market cross.
Market place
Ger. der Markt; Polish targ. A public place, or space, for the purpose of buying and selling; most often at the centre of a town - although during the British civic replanning in the post-war period, many such market-places were removed to the edge of the town centre. Morphologically, the market place is a plan unit most often as an open area populated by itinerant market stalls on market days. As the market becomes more established, the stalls become permanent (SEE: market colonisation. Market places take a variety of forms, that may reflect the period or nature of settlement foundation or planning (Golachowski, 1956). The oldest derive from village greens, common open spaces and the triangular junctions of roads. Triangular market places (eg Alnwick [Conzen, 1960] and Taunton [Aston and Bond, 1976]) are typical of this latter derivation and of markets at the gateways of abbeys, mostly founded in the C11th and C12th. Widened street markets (eg Henley in Arden [Aston and Bond, 1976]) are typical of market towns with no focal junction, a single street town plan. This plan type seems to be typical of the post- c. 1100 period (Ibid., p. 89). The last major market type is trapezoid, commonly known as market squares. These may be regular squares or rectangles in a regular grid-plan layout, or more irregular trapezoids where the ideal regular grid cannot be achieved in practice (eg Lichfield [Slater, 1986b, 1987]).
Market town - settlement type
Ger. Markstadt. Town with a major marketing function for a surrounding hinterland; has morphologically characteristic market features.

Medial plot - Conzenian terminology
A derivative plot developing in the middle of a strip plot between the plot head and plot tail. Medial plots will only develop where there is a longitudinal line of communication, since they have no access to the frontage street or the back lane (Conzen, 1960, p. 65).


Mediation - Conzenian terminology
The lengthwise division of a plot. This enables the occupiers of the derivative plots to retain access on to both frontage street and back lane. This is especially important when wide original burgages are divided (Conzen, 1960, p. 25). Successive divisions may occur.


SEE: tenement A plot of land supporting a dwelling and attendant buildings: often a house and garden (Brooke and Keir, 1975, p. xx).

Metamorphic plot pattern - Conzenian terminology
"A plot pattern showing secondary changes caused by amalgamation, division and truncation of plots" (Conzen, 1969, p. 127). These changes occur within individual street blocks and involve no change to the street system.

Metrological analysis - method of analysis
Analysis of settlement plans by detailed measurement of plot sizes, preferably using existing surviving plot boundaries but which may also be carried out using old large-scale plans; analysis of regularities in plots in terms of fractions or multiples of old units of measurement such as perches or rods (in standars or local forms) to suggest phases of planning (Kalinowski, 1972; Lafrenz, 1988; Sheppard, 1974; Slater, 1981, 1988, 1990c, pp. 71-74).

Morphography - method of analysis
The description of forms without reference to their origins and mode of development (Whitehand [Ed.], 1981, p. 13).


Morphological conformity - Conzenian terminology
The manner in which a plan unit corresponds with the existing plan outline, or morphological frame.


Morphological frame - Conzenian terminology
"An antecedent plan feature, topographical outline, or set of outlines exerting a morphological influence on subsequent more or less conformable plan development, and often passing its features on as inherited outlines" (Conzen, 1969, p. 127). The pattern of development forming the kernel of a town often provides a constraint to the form of future development in the area. The pattern of plots and streets therefore has a morphological influence upon later development. The presence of a rapid change in gradient, or the course of a river, forms topographical outlines around which the development of the town is, initially at least, constrained. See Slater (1989a) for the use of the morphological frame in the analysis of Doncaster. The morphological frame is also an important element in the redevelopment of residential areas (Jones et al., 1988) within the scope of Conzenian townscape precepts.


Morphological period - Conzenian terminology
Any cultural period that exerts a distinctive morphological influence upon the whole or any part of a town. The forms resulting will represent the socio-economic needs of that society and will survive to a varying degree as residual features depending upon the needs of successive societies (see Conzen, 1988). The products of cumulative historic morphological periods make up the morphological frame. There are few sharp boundaries to morphological periods (Whitehand, 1984).


Morphological processes
The set of process shaping urban form. These include adaptive, additive, repletive and transformative processes.


Morphological region - Conzenian terminology
An area of homogenous urban form in terms of plan type, building type and land use (Conzen, 1975). Conzen suggests, but inadequately defines, a hierarchical order of morphological regions, the smallest of which is the morphotope (Conzen, 1988).


Morphology (urban)
The study of form. OED, the history of variation in form (first use 1885); term used by Goethe (Wilkinson and Willoughby, 1962). Thus, urban morphology refers to "the study of the physical (or built) fabric of urban form, and the people and processes shaping it" (working definition advanced by Glossary editors). Use in English in this context dates at least to Leighly (1931). In urban design, the term is proncipally used for "... a method of analysis which is basic to find[ing] out principles or rules of urban design" (Gebauer and Samuels, 1981); although they also note that the term can be understood as the study of the physical and spatial characteristics of the whole urban structure: this is closer to the geographer's usage.


Morphometric analysis - method of analysis
Analysis of the form of urban plots (SEE: metrologicaland SEE: geometrical analysis). Used principally of burgages. Conzen (1988, note 25) provisionally suggests 3 types of burgage, based on morphometric analysis of the length:width ratio (E). E = 4 or less= shallow burgage E = >4 - 7= medium burgage E = >7= deep burgage.


Morphotope - Conzenian terminology
"The smallest urban localities obtaining distinctive character among their neighbours from their particular combination of constituent morphological elements" (Conzen, 1988, p. 259). These elements consist of the characteristics of plan type, building type and land use (Conzen, 1975). A morphotope is essentially the smallest type of morphological region.
Motte and bailey - building type

New town - settlement type
(1)Medieval. A planted town characteristic of western and central Europe (Ger. Neustadt). May have a regular planned layout and/or may be a fortified bastide (Beresford, 1967). The Polish nowe miastro may be a place-name, rather than an independent settlement (see Koter, 1990).

Occupation road - Conzenian terminology; street type
"A road, lane, alley or footpath providing subsidiary, commonly back, access to adjoining plots or main access other than that by a proper street (Conzen, 1969, p. 127). Ger. Wirtschaftsstrasse. Occupation roads are often termed back lanes or access roads. Their purpose is distributory and not for through traffic.

Orthomorphic plot patterm - Conzenian terminology
A plot pattern, of whatever age, that has experienced no change to its form through subdivision, amalgamation or augmentation or in any other way. Conzen (1960, pp. 69-70) uses the term with regard to burgage series, but it may equally be applied to residential integuments and other plot patterns.

Parent plot - Conzenian terminology
"An original or primary plot from which secondary or derivative plots have been carved by partition" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128). Parent plots are the product of an original layout or design. They exist, unaltered, in an orthomorphic plot pattern but over time become divided and/or amalgamated. Conzen (1960, p. 56) illustrates this by describing a burgage series, but it may equally be applied to any `original' plot in any layout (see, eg, Jones et al., 1988, pp. 13-17).



Or pole or rod  is a unit of length of various locally different historical measure, often between 3 and 8 meters but generally defined as being 16' 6" (5.029m).

Plan division - Conzenian terminology
"A geographical group of morphogenetic plan-units, a morphogenetic plan `region' within the town. Urban plan divisions are arranged in a hierarchy of two or more orders depending upon the size and complexity of the town. The kernel or Old Town, with or without its inner fringe belt depending upon the character of that belt, forms a plan division of the first order as does the totality of integuments outside. Individual integuments are plan divisons of the second order" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128). Individual planned layouts will also form plan divisions of the first order; plot series or street blocks of similar character would constitute second-order divisions, and plots or collections of plots containing similar urban forms may form a third-order plan division. The identification of plan-divisions has many implications for townscape management. If plan divisions, or townscape regions (Conzen, 1988), are areas within a town that are morphologically similar, then second-cycle treatment of these areas may be more sympathetically undertaken as areas of similar form require similar policies for change.


Plan element - Conzenian terminology
The town plan may be divided into three consituent parts or elements: streets, and their arrangement into a street system; plots and their aggregation in street blocks; and buildings within those plots (Conzen, 1960, p. 5). Each combination of these plan elements derives a uniqueness from the characteristics of site and the established morphological frame.

Plan analysis - method of analysis
Often used as shorthand for town-plan analysis.


Plan seam - Conzenian terminology
"A line dividing genetically different parts of a town plan" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128). Adjoining layouts, developments of different morphological periods, and plan units, townscape regions or at the smallest scale, morphotopes, will be divided by plan seams.


Planted town - settlement type
A town created de novo; term often used of medieval new towns created by a feudal overlord (eg Beresford, 1967). Beresford distinguishes between planted towns and `organic' towns, but this distinction may not always be real for, as Slater (1982) suggests, almost all successful plantations were preceded by manorial growth, often with some marketing function. SEE: new town; planned town


Plan unit - Conzenian terminology
A plan unit may be identified in any part of the town plan that is morphologically different from its surroundings - in terms of its streets, plots and buildings. This may be undertaken at differing scales from layouts to individual morphotopes and applies to any area that exhibits internal homogeneity and morphological disunity with neighbouring plots (Conzen, 1960, p. 5, 108 et seq.).

(1)colloquial Piece, usually small, of ground (OED).
(2)Conzenian terminology "A parcel of land representing a land-use unit defined by boundaries on the ground" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128). It is a plan element.


Plot accessory - Conzenian terminology
A building associated with the land use of the plot but not the primary or plot dominant building on that plot. Plot accessories are usually in the `garth' or garden at the tail of the plot. In the medieval town, accessories would have originally been subsidiary buildings to the mercantile function of the plot (Conzen, 1960, pp. 31-32). In residential integuments, accessories may include greenhouses, sheds and garages or, in areas of mixed land use, workshops (for examples see Burnett, 1978, chap. 3).


Plot amalgamation - Conzenian terminology
A process typical of the burgage and redevelopment cycles. Occurs when the requirements of a society become different from those existing when the areas were originally laid out.


Plot boundary
A division between plots, often also separating land ownership units. Primary plot boundaries (Slater, 1981) exist as relict features of the orthomorphic plot pattern. Characteristically, they are straighter and longer than subsequent boundaries that have been added to the morphological frame.


Plot cycle
The burgage cycle is the best-known plot cycle; but similar developmental cycles have been shown to operate for plots in residential areas (Jones, 1990) and town centres (Koter, 1990).


Plot dominant - Conzenian terminology
"The main building associated with the land use of the plot" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128). In medieval towns the plot dominant most frequently occupied much of the street line at the plot head. The remainder of the strip plot (whether burgage or toft) would contain subsidiary buildings or plot accessories. In residential areas the plot dominants follow a building line set back from the street line allowing room for a front garden. Areas of lower residential density tend to have a less formal arrangement of plot dominants.


Plot head - Conzenian terminology
"The smaller but usually more important front part of a strip plot [or other plot] including the frontage and any other land under, and close to, a plot dominant placed on or near the street line" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128).


Plot pattern - Conzenian terminology
The arrangement of plots - considered deparately from the other plan elements - up to the level of street blocks. Areas of homogenous plot pattern may result from a laid-out plot series or formal layout, the constraints of the morphological frame or planning controls.

Plot series - Conzenian terminology
A row of adjacent plots that share similar building line and development characteristics.


Plot tail - Conzenian terminology
"The larger but usually less important rear part of a strip plot, rarely occupied by a plot dominant" (Conzen, 1969, p. 128). This area, which typically has poor access, is developed to a much lower density than the plot head, and contains plot accessories and the garden (whether for recreation or quasi- productive uses).



Or perch or rod is a unit of length of various locally different historical measure, often between 3 and 8 meters but generally defined as being 16' 6" (5.029m).

Pre-urban nucleus - Conzenian terminology
A plan-unit that pre-dates the development of a town. It usually comprises a church and often buildings of an ecclesiastical order (SEE: monastic urban elements (Slater, 1987, pp. 191-203), or a fortification (Conzen, 1960, p. 21), which gives rise to the settlement adjacent to it. Note, however, that some castles were imposed on existing settlements during periods of colonisation. The pre-urban nucleus is most often the first plan unit (providing the stimulus for further development) (SEE: urbs and is followed by an early suburban integument, which together form the kernel of the Old Town. See Clarke and Simms (Eds), 1985, pp. 30, 108, 499, 672, 678, 696.

Proto-urban/proto-town - settlement type
In English usage there is a difference in emphasis between proto- and pre-urban, but there appears to be no consistency of usage (Clarke and Simms, 1985, p. 672). Proto-towns "were not towns, but they possessed some of the attributes of genuine towns. The concept corrsponds to the recognised anthropological feature of many societies - that it is common for settlements to be in a state of transition from village, camp or sanctuary to town. This is not to say that all medieval towns in non-Roman Europe necessarily went through such a phase before emerging as fully developed towns" (Ibid., p. 673). It has also been stated that "it is not possible to sustain proto-urbanism: a site is either urban or it is not" (Hodges, 1982, p. 23). This statement appears to ignore often lengthy phases of slow growth and accretion of functions, tending towards the outmoded view of town creation by legislative fiat (SEE: town para. 2).


Pseudo-street system - Conzenian terminology
A pattern of streets that develop within a plan unit as a result of building repletion. The streets are commonly narrow and unsuitable for traffic, but do serve to connect antecedent streets at either end and provide much-needed access to the plot tails of strip plots (Conzen, 1960, p. 66).

Phase of the burgage or plot cycles, where building coverage declines from the maximum (climax phase). Recession may end in complete clearance, or urban fallow.

Redevelopment - Conzenian terminology
Defined by Conzen (1969, p. 129) as the "development of previously cleared central urban land in response to socio-economic revaluation of the area. May take the form of new building layout or other design for a new land use, replacing the whole or part of an obsolete plan unit ...". Conzen's subdivisions of redevelopment into augmentative and adaptive are also useful, as is his identification of the redevelopment cycle. The term applies to all land having undergone first-cycle development; it is not restricted to central urban areas.


Redevelopment cycle - Conzenian terminology
The process of redevelopment in response to changing socio-economic revaluation of capital investment. In British towns the first redevelopment cycle is usually towards the end of the C18th, when many medieval plots were first cleared, then lay as urban fallow, were amalgamated and redeveloped with broadly constant building coverage towards a climax phase. Then follows a period of piecemeal replacement or a return to a period of urban fallow (Conzen, 1960, p. 91, 94). The burgage cycle is a specialised form of redevelopment cycle;

Replacement - Conzenian terminology
The rebuilding or redevelopment of individual buildings, usually the plot dominants. replacement does not include change that involves the amalgamation or subdivision of plots, but only the substitution of the block plan of one building for another (Conzen, 1960, p. 69). SEE: building replacement

Repletion - Conzenian terminology
The gradual intensification of building density in an existing plot pattern. These secondary buildings can be additional plot dominants on derivative plots (alongside the existing back lane). Alternatively, repletion takes the form of new plot accessories which develop with the socio-economic requirements of the occupiers through time. Repletion occurs in all types of plan unit as the redevelopment cycle progresses. Conzen (1960, pp. 59, 66 et seq.) illustrates this for the medieval town, and Koter (1990) the modern town centre. SEE: building cycle, burgage cycle, plot cycleand SEE: redevelopment cycle residential repletion is "the colonisation of a large residential plot by dwelling-houses on derivative plots either in the form of a conforming repletive layout or by piecemeal individual repletion. Retention of the antecedent plot dominant on its residual parent plot usually produces architectural incongruence" (Conzen, 1969, p. 130). Residential repletion is one form ofsecond-cycle development and is particularly common in the post-WWII period as the socio-economic requirements of society changed, lessening the need for large houses with large gardens. The effects of piecemeal repletion and redevelopment have been particularly marked in south-east England (Whitehand, 1988, 1990; Jones, 199), but are a nationwide phenomenon (Booth, 1989; Jones et al., 1988; Pompa, 1988; Whitehand and Larkham, 1990). Consequences for the character of the townscape owing to architectural incongruence and increasing residential densities can be severe (Whitehand, 1990).


Repletive absorption - Conzenian terminology
"Transgression of plot boundaries and absorption of adjoining plots by an intensified and growing land use, accompanied by corresponding building transgression and expansion of the plot dominant" (Conzen, 1969, p. 129).

Residential accretion - Conzenian terminology
The addition of dwelling houses to the edge of the built-up area. According to the fringe-belt concept, outward urban growth consists of alternating residential accretions and fringe belts.

Residential development unit - Conzenian terminology
An accretionary plan unit, otherwise termed a residential integument, that is formed by the release of land for development. Both residential layouts and arterial ribbons are such units (Conzen, 1960, pp. 71-72, 85 et seq., 97 et seq.).

Residential street - Conzenian terminology - planning terminology - street type
A street accommodating traffic to and from adjoining residential plots only (Conzen, 1969, p. 130) (Ger. Wohnstrasse). In planning usage, this term has a meaning allied to residential land use rather than to the traffic flow pattern.

Retrogressive method - method of analysis
A research procedure entailing working backward in time frim surviving features (Whitehand [Ed.], 1981, p. 13). Contrast with developmental method.



Or perch or pole  is a surveyor's tool and unit of length of various locally different historical measure, often between 3 and 8 meters but generally defined as being 16' 6" (5.029m).

Roman town - settlement type
The Roman colonisation of Britain left many elements of urban form that have been incorporated into modern town plans. Colonia towns such as Gloucester, York, Lincoln and Colchester were Roman legionary fortresses surrounded by estate farms. Municium towns such as Verulanium (St. Albans) and possibly Londinium (London) were roughly equivalent to a borough. Civitas capital towns with a typical `- chester' place-name suffix were the highest order settlements in Roman Britain. They form the equivalent of county towns with a defensive role, market function, basilica, theatre etc. (Wacher, 1973).


Row - Conzenian terminology
A line of plot dominants occupying the full street frontage but of diverse architectural design. This form of closed building development is typical of the kernels of historic towns (Conzen, 1960, p. 32). Contrast with row houses.


Row houses
(1)Applied in medieval contexts: a rare survival is modified form is the Rows in Chester (Chester Archaeological Society, 1984).
(2)North American term for terraced housing.

Street - Conzenian terminology - street type
A town or village road that has more or less closed building development along its length. It is a space (street-space), is bounded by street lines and is provided either for through traffic - a major traffic street - or for access to parts of a plot - an occupation street - or a solely residential street. It is a plan- element.


Street block - Conzenian terminology
A group of plots bounded by street lines (Conzen, 1960, p. 5).


Street density - Conzenian terminology
"The average street length per unit of urban land" (Conzen, 1969, p. 130).


Street line - Conzenian terminology
The line dividing street-space from adjoining street blocks (Conzen, 1960, p. 5).


Street market
Street used, and often widened, to accommodate market functions

Street system - Conzenian terminology
The arrangement of streets within the town plan, of which it is an element complex (Conzen, 1960, p. 5).


Strip-plot - Conzenian terminology
An elongated plot with one of its shorter boundaries forming the frontage with the street. An occupation road or back lane often provides access to the plot tail. The layout of burgages is a typical form of strip plot. Subdivision (mediation) of plots heightens this characteristic, as the high rental value of street frontages is maximised (Conzen, 1960, p. 28).


Subdivision - fabric change
Plots may be divided horizontally or vertically:

Medieval Latin, from Lat. `sub urbe'. An unwalled, non-agricultural integument outside the fortification of the pre-urban nucleus (Lat. `urbe'). This early stage of medieval development most often forms the kernel of historic towns (Conzen, 1960, p. 22). Its original land uses would have been supplementary to the nucleus and included residential, commercial and market functions. The formerly open suburbium is often, at some point, enclosed by walls that join it to the already fortified core (see Ennen, 1953, pp. 121 ff.). The medieval Latin sense is "settlement below or near the fortified place or castle": see Conzen (1988, pp. 263 ff.) for the example of Ludlow.

Tail-end plot - Conzenian terminology
A derivative plot occupying the tail of a parent plot, being the result of plot truncation (Conzen, 1969, p. 56).

(1)A unit of landholding (Lat. tenementum).
(2)building type An industrial block of flats or apartments, usually of up to three storeys, normally aligned parallel to the street. Access to the flats is obtained by a series of staircases, each common to several flats. The tenement is the most common dwelling type in large industrial cities in Europe, outside England (Worsdall, 1979).

(1)building type See Muthesius (1982). A continuous line of three or more dwellings of unified architectural design (Conzen, 1960, p. 63). Although a characteristic of most morphological periods, notably in Georgian Bath, Edinburgh and Dublin, this form of development was particularly popular in Britain from the mid C19th. Standards of working-class terrace housing were improved as housing standards came within the control of public health and housing/planning regulation. The majority were through-terraces with two rooms on both ground and first floors, with a kitchen/scullery at the rear and a small garden beyond. In inner city areas, especially in the northern industrial towns, back-to-back terraced housing was common: in other regions, blind-backs and tunnel-backs are common terrace types (Burnett, 1978, pp. 77-78; Muthesius, 1982). The terraced house was less favoured in the inter-war period as semi-detached dwellings on green-field sites became the typical working- and middle-class housing type. Victorian and Edwardian terraced housing thus usually forms the inner suburbs of British towns.
(2) architectural term A level space supported by a wall, eg in a park or extended from a building, often used as a promenade.

Timber-framed building - building type
Building with a main structure of timber, making up a series of frames (cross, wall, roof and floor), jointed together. Early urban examples rarely survive; examples from the C15th onwards are more common. Small urban plots (commonly subdivided burgages) and high land values led to modifications of rural timber-framed house plans, giving taller buildings commonly with oversailing upper stories (known as `jetties'). Buildings using this type of construction usually appear as `half-timbered' (also known as `black- and-white' from their usual, albeit probably Victorian, appearance). They are commonly referred to as Tudor, although by no means all examples date from this period. C20th `black-and-white' buildings are rarely structurally timber-framed; the timber and infilling is solely decorative: these buildings may erroneously be termed half-timbered, but are better known by the style name neo-Tudor.

Town - settlement type
Smaller urban area; but `town' is undefined as to exact size or function. In the U.S. `city' is usually preferred for most settlements above c. 5,000 population: `towns' are rare. Note that there is considerable debate over what constitutes a medieval `town' (not unrelated to the debate on boroughs). The C19th emphasis on market law or municipal law as the essence of a medieval town has largely been abandoned in favour of a functionalist approach (Clarke and Simms, 1985, pp. 674-676; Schledermann, 1971).

Town plan - Conzenian terminology
The arrangement of streets, plots and buildings forming the topographical arrangement of the built urban environment. Conzen (1960, p. 4) uses "all features of the built-up area shown on the 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey plans" as these give morphological detail to a level by which aspects of building fabric and of land use may be studied: including the three element complexes.


"The physiognomy of a town or the urban landscape, being the combination of three systematic form complexes, ie town plan, building fabric and land use" (Conzen, 1969, p. 131), "the visual appearance of a town" (OED). Many geographers comprehensively examine a town's scenery and its evolution into its modern form (eg Smailes, 1955). Many accounts are merely descriptive, often chronological, often failing to make any cogent point (Johns, 1965; Burke, 1971, 1976). The usual architectural approach tends to view each element of a townscape more as an individual work of artistic merit, and seems to claim that townscaping is an applied art (Cullen, 1961). Sharp, unusually and early for a planner, also makes this point (Sharp, 1968). Probably best defined in non-technical terms as "a wide scenic view of a town or parts of a town, with common characteristics of design" (Johns, 1965, p. 10).


Townscape cell - Conzenian terminology
The smallest of a hierarchy of unitary areas within a town, often a plot or a small group of plots 

Urban fallow - Conzenian terminology
Land, within the urban fabric, that is temporarily disused owing to socio-economic devaluation. This concept was developed by Conzen from the Sozialbrache (social fallow) of Hartke (1953). It forms part of the burgage, plot and redevelopment cycles, when land has been cleared but no new development, initiated by socio-economic revaluation, has begun (Conzen, 1960, p. 94).


Urban fortifications
The walls, towers, bastions, ditches, moats and glacis of the fortified town (see Barley, 1976); includes urban castles, although in many cases the primary function of the castle was not the protection of the town itself. Such fortifications usually ringed the kernel of the town, forming a barrier to development; a fixation line; but, when cleared (often in the C18th-C19th in Europe) afforded an opportunity for certain types of development, including ringstrasse.

Vernacular - architectural style
(1)`Of local origin' - the idea that certain building styles and materials are characteristic of particular regions. Pseudo-vernacular: "... the use of traditional materials and stylistic features in inappropriate locations" (Bridger, undated, p. 87). Neo-vernacular: "implies a new use or arrangement of traditional styles, interposed with new forms of construction" (Ibid.). Some studies have used neo- and pseudo-vernacular without differentiation.
(2)A building not expressly architect-designed: see Brunskill (1978).

Villae mercatoriae - settlement type
`Market villages': medieval grant of market rights to a village, ie not a borough. Quite common in England, but rare in Wales, Scotland and Ireland (Graham, 1988, pp. 46-47). A step towards borough, and therefore urban, status.


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