Little Flanders Beyond Wales

Following the Norman-Conquest, Flemings settled in the British Isles. The only relatively well-documented community was in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, where King Henry I between 1107 and 1111 would have sent all Flemings living in England. After establishing this colony, members of the Flemish lay elite immigrated directly from Flanders to plant new settlements which have striking similarities with settlements in their homeland. Although the Flemish presence in Pembrokeshire is embedded in local folklore and historiography, Flemish impact on the settlement landscapes of the British Isles has rarely been the subject of landscape archaeological research.

This research aims to verify the hypothesis that there has been a translocation of the Flemish planted rural settlement system to the British Isles following direct immigration from Flanders. Socioeconomic opportunism, ecological stress and demographic pressure following a wave of extension on marginal grounds along the margins of exploited lands in Flanders, caused this transfer of skills to areas equally hostile, both geographically and politically. The combined use of multi-proxy historic, archaeological and geographical data with innovative landscape archaeological, remote-sensing and geophysical methods will allow to create a reference model for tenth- to twelfth-century Flemish planted rural settlement morphologies. This will permit understanding of commonalities and contrast in Flemish cultural impacts on rural settlement structures and related field systems from the place of origin to dispersal to the British Isles, thereby offering insights into how culturally distinctive land-use and planning traditions were modified in response to political circumstances, local traditions and environments.

More information:

Research units

Staff members


  • Prof. Dr. Wim De Clercq

  • Prof. Dr. Steven Vanderputten

  • Prof. Dr. Stephen Rippon