Bristol 11th - 14th Centuries

During the 11th century this market town developed into a port and was a major centre for the Anglo-Saxon slave trade. Under Norman rule Brycgstow acquired one southern England's strongest castles.

By the 12th century Brycgstow was a major port, handling much of England's trade with Ireland. There is also evidence of extensive trade with Iceland, France and Spain. Henry II gave the town its first charter in 1155.

Between 1240 and 1247 a Great Ditch was constructed in St Augustine's Marsh to straighten out the course of the River Frome and provide more space for berthing ships. In 1247 a new stone bridge was built across the Avon.

By the mid 14th century Bristol is considered to have been England's third-largest town (after London and York), with an estimated 15-20,000 inhabitants. However, in 1348-49 the Black Death inflicted a prolonged demographic setback, with the population estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 during the 15th and 16th Centuries.

In 1373 Bristol was granted county status by royal charter. Around this period the town also became a centre of shipbuilding and manufacturing, and was subsequently the starting point for many important voyages.

In 1542, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the Diocese of Bristol was founded and the former Abbey of St Augustine (established in 1140) became Bristol Cathedral, making Bristol a city.