The Gazetteer of Historic Nucleated Urban Settlements

The Gazetteer of Nucleated Historic Urban Settlements (GHNUS) is a record being developed and continually enhanced by HED to help articulate the historic evolution of our urban and village settlements.

Creating the Gazetteer

The record draws together evidence for settlement in each place, from a range of sources including those held by HERoNI and PRoNI, and historic maps. Through this evidence, each entry, where possible, describes the earliest known human activity at the location, the foundation of a nucleated pattern and makes general observations about the early plan and focus of a settlement, and its growth – in general charting its development up to the 1830s.

The Spatial Dataset

For most settlements the early centre has been defined in an accompanying GIS layer on the basis of the settlement plan as shown on the first edition Ordnance Survey Maps. In some cases, this is expanded on the basis of, archaeological or historical evidence, and a larger area is defined as the historic core of the settlement. In a few other cases, where there is evidence for buildings at a location which later developed into a village, an urban or nucleated settlement are defined. HED spatial datasets are available for download.

Application of the Gazetteer

For those settlements whose foundations and plan have been recorded on the first edition Ordnance Survey map, Areas of Archaeological Potential have been identified by HED. These can be used in Local Development Plans to help make developers aware of the potential for archaeological discovery within the spatially defined boundaries. Very many of these settlements can be shown to have origins in previous centuries, and many have archaeological sites, historic buildings or industrial heritage assets within that provide a narrative for their development. In addition, the Gazetteer can be utilised to help inform research and assessments for planning, academic or other designation purposes, such as designation of Local Landscape Policy Areas, Areas of Townscape or Village Character or Conservation Areas.

Curating the Gazetteer

Not every settlement is yet defined and included within the GHNUS and the record continues to grow and develop. Some of our larger well-known settlements such as Carrickfergus, Downpatrick, Belfast, Bangor and others, are already well known and understood as centres of historic origin, and our work to date has been focused toward articulating the origins of those for which less understanding had been developed. The Gazetteer, like every other record in HERoNI, is maintained and updated as new research is undertaken or new information comes to light. If you are interested in a settlement not yet on the Gazetteer, contact HERoNI at as work may be underway already toward forming an entry.

For everyone this record enables a better understanding of the places in which we live, work and enjoy. The articulation of historic context is a vital aid in positive place shaping which recognises and can be better informed by the historic characteristics of our villages, towns and cities.

Ultimately, we aim to make this entire record available as an online resource, but at the present time only the spatial dataset is available for download, while requests for entries can be made to

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