Avon Stories #3 – Bristol and the Medieval Avon, part 1 – the City and the Rivers

This is the first of a two-part podcast where I met with Dr Peter Fleming of the University of the West of England, who told me all about Bristol in Medieval times, and how the River Avon and the River Frome were integral in making it one of the most important cities of the time in England and Western Europe.

In Part 1, we talk about the physical city and the infrastructure, how the geography made Bristol so important, as well as how people lived, who had the power, and what the city would have looked (and smelled) like.

Part 2 looks at how Bristol survived some of the big sweeping events of the time, with more about who lived and worked in the city, including the Knights Templars, the Jewish communities, women in Bristol, and Icelandic slaves.  We also talked about what Bristolians did for fun, including music, plays, sport and drinking.  Listen to that one here.

Of course, I have maps to give you an idea of what things looked like, with lots more links below.  First, my own map, with my rough approximations of where the city walls were, as well as the path of the River Frome as it runs through Bristol.  All errors are my own!

UPDATE!  There’s also the official Bristol City Council map of the Medieval city, overlaid on top of modern-day streets

I’ve also added photos of what the places look like now, and you can also find these in my flickr albums of walking the Frome line, walking the inside of the Medieval Wall, and what’s left of the Bristol Castle.

Continue reading “Avon Stories #3 – Bristol and the Medieval Avon, part 1 – the City and the Rivers”

Avon Stories podcast #1: Know Your Place, with Pete Insole

One of the things I’ll be doing through my Avon Stories project is to interview as many people as I can, about all kinds of different aspects of the River Avon in Bristol, from historians, to experts on different places along the river; to artists making work based on or inspired by it, to people who work on and around the river, whether directly, or just because that’s where they’re based.

And where better to start, than with Pete Insole, who runs the Know Your Place website for Bristol City Council?

Pete is a Historic Environments Officer, and Know Your Place is an incredible repository of information about the city.  It has maps dating back to the early eighteenth century, that you can overlay on top of each other, and on top of present-day maps and aerial photography, to get a feeling of how it has changed, but that’s just the beginning.  You can access layers of paintings, drawings, photographs and information from Bristol’s museums, archives and the Council’s departments, and see exactly where those photos are taken.  Or maybe you want to see where bombs hit the City in World World Two, or hear stories form Bristolians about how different parts of the city have changed.  And finally, on the Community Layer, anyone can add their own photos to the map, whether of the past or the present, enabling people to add their own stories to the City’s records.

Pete told me all about how and why Know Your Place was developed, how it has expanded across the whole of South West England, and how it helps us understand some of the key aspects of the city’s history, including, of course, the River Avon.

Listen here, or download it from Soundcloud, and you can sign up to the Avon Stories RSS and subscribe on iTunes, to make sure you hear all the future stories.

If you want to explore Bristol through Know Your Place, start here.  And if you want to see what else it contains for the wider West of England, the Know Your Place West website is here, with all sorts of excellent tutorials that will help everyone.  There’s also the Know Your Place West twitter to follow for regular information, tips and new updates to the website.

Continue reading “Avon Stories podcast #1: Know Your Place, with Pete Insole”