Human activity in the Bristol area can be traced back as early as the Palaeolithic period. Artefacts dating to at least 250,000 years ago have been recovered from gravel terraces at Shirehampton and St Anne’s.
Later prehistoric settlement is known from Avonmouth where there is evidence of late Bronze Age activity. There are Iron Age hillforts at:
- Blaise Castle
- Kings Weston and
- Clifton Down.
These indicate the strategic importance of the area in this period. The area was prosperous in the Roman period and several villas and large farm settlements are known.
Medieval Bristol was established by the late 10th century. During this period, Bristol quickly became one of the most important ports and cities in the country. It was enclosed by imposing town walls and dominated by one of largest castles in the country.
Following the end of the Civil War in 1649, Bristol prospered as new industries were established. By the 18th century, new suburbs were being built, such as Clifton and Kingsdown. Bristol also began to expand significantly from its old medieval core.
By the end of the 19th century Bristol had reached almost its present extent. This was due to major immigration into the city from the countryside. 20th century Bristol saw further expansion. New housing estates were being built and new industries; such as the aircraft industry became established. The devastation of the historic core of Bristol in World War II resulted in major rebuilding from the 1950s. Much of this building caused the destruction of important archaeological sites. Many of these have been archaeologically excavated, producing crucial evidence for the city’s early development..
Archaeology Advice and Policy
Brunel House, 2nd Floor, Bazaar Wing
Bristol City Council, PO Box 3176
Bristol, BS3 9FS
Tel: 0117 922 3044