A linear settlement is a (normally small to medium-sized) settlement or group of buildings that is formed in a long line. Many follow a transport route, such as a road, river, or canal though some form due to physical restrictions, such as coastlines, mountains, hills or valleys. Linear settlements may have no obvious centre, such as a road junction. Linear settlements have a long and narrow shape.
In the case of settlements built along a route, the route predated the settlement, and then the settlement grew up at some way station or feature, growing along the transport route. Often, it is only a single street with houses on either side of the road. Mileham, Norfolk, England is a good example of this. Later development may add side turnings and districts away from the original main street. Places such as Southport, England developed in this way.
A linear settlement is in contrast with ribbon development, which is the outward spread of an existing town along a main street and a nucleated settlement, which is a group of buildings clustered around a central point.
A linear village or a chain village is a village that is also a linear settlement.