Bristol is an old English word that means “the place at the Bridge.” It is located at the confluence of the Frome and Avon Rivers. Iron Age forts, possibly going back as far as 1200BC have been located in this vicinity by archaeologists. Roman villas have also been unearthed.
Bristol received a royal charter in 1155, making it an official municipality. In 1373, it became an official county as well.
From the 13th to the 18th century, Bristol was one of the three most influential cities after London in the nation (along with York and Norwich). This would change during the Industrial Revolution with the rise of Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham.
The reason for this had everything to do with shipping. Bristol was a starting place for early voyages of exploration to the New World. John Cabot in 1497 began his voyage here and the first European since the Vikings to land on mainland North America. In 1499, William Weston (a Bristol merchant) was the first Englishman to lead an exploration to North America.
Today, Bristol’s economy has as much to do with the media, electronics and the aerospace industries as it does with shipping. The University of the West of England and the University of Bristol reside here – these are two of the leading schools in the country. It is also considered one of the best places to visit as a tourist or to live as a resident.