For half a millennium Bristol was the second or third largest English city, until the rapid rise of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham in the Industrial Revolution of the 1780s.
It borders on the unitary districts of Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Bristol is one of the main centres of culture, employment and education in the region. From its earliest days, its prosperity has been linked to that of the Port of Bristol, the commercial port, which was in the city centre but has now moved to the Bristol Channel coast at Avonmouth and Portbury. In more recent years the economy has been built on the aerospace industry, and the city centre docks have been regenerated as a centre of heritage and culture. The city is famous for its unique music and film industries, and was a finalist for the 2008 European Capital of Culture.
There is evidence of settlement in the Bristol area from the palaeolithic era, with 60,000-year-old archaeological finds at Shirehampton and St Annes. There are iron age hill forts near the city, at Leigh Woods and Clifton Down on the side of the Avon Gorge, and on Kingsweston Hill, near Henbury. During the Roman era there was a settlement, Abona, at what is now Sea Mills, connected to Bath by Roman road, and another settlement at what is now Inns Court. There were also isolated villas and small settlements throughout the area.
The town of Brycgstow (Old English, "the place at the bridge") was in existence by the beginning of the 11th century, and under Norman rule acquired one of the strongest castles in southern England. The River Avon in the city centre has slowly evolved into Bristol Harbour, and since the 12th century the harbour has been an important port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland. In 1247 a new bridge was built and the town was extended to incorporate neighbouring suburbs, becoming in 1373 a county in its own right. During this period Bristol also became a centre of shipbuilding and manufacturing. Bristol was the starting point for many important voyages, notably John Cabot's 1497 voyage of exploration to North America.
One Last Time.
The last ever flight of any Concorde, 26 November 2003. The aircraft is seen a few minutes before landing on the Filton runway from which she first flew in 1969.