The legendary story of how Bristol’s Avon Gorge came to be.
This story was made at a weekly digital storytelling workshop with a Brunel theme for staff and volunteers at Bristol Industrial Museum, inspired by the life and work of Brunel. The stories were created both in formal sessions and in staff members’ spare time with support from Ruth Jacobs, Sarwat Siddiqui, Andy King, Chris Redford and Phil Walker, between Nov 2005 and Feb 2006. The project was supported by Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives.
[classical music plays throughout]
Brunel’s masterpiece, the Clifton Suspension Bridge, probably one of the finest views to be seen anywhere in Bristol. For over 150 years it has gracefully spanned the spectacular Avon Gorge. I would say most Bristolians are very proud of their bridge – a great statement of Victorian engineering of the finest quality, designed by the great man himself.
We know a lot about the suspension bridge, but what do we know about the Avon Gorge? How did we get an Avon Gorge in the first place? Geologists say vast quantities of debris left after an earlier ice age forced the river to cut its way through the rock but Bristolians know better. Let’s travel back in the mists of time to find out what really happened…
Bristol’s Blaise Castle estate, known for stately Blaise Castle House and the gothic folly in its grounds, Blaise estate was also the legendary stamping ground of the giant Goram.
Legend has it that two local giants, Goram and Vincent both fell in love with the same woman, and sought her hand in marriage. She was the lovely Avona a Wiltshire-born merry belle, and promised to marry the first giant to drain the great lake that once stretched from Bradford-on-Avon to what is now Bristol.
Goram picked his route through Henbury Hills, while Vincent instead opted for Durdham Downs, but the digging was thirsty work, and Goram soon succumbed to the heat, and fell asleep in his favourite winged “chair”.
Meanwhile, the ever-industrious Vincent furiously kept digging, emerging at Sea Mills and duly won Avona’s hand.
Avona gave her name to Vincent’s gorge, while Goram, who was broken-hearted, hurled himself into the river Severn, and was drowned. His head and shoulders can still be seen, poking out of the estuary mud as the rocks of Flat Holm and Steep Holm.
St Vincent’s Rocks, near the Clifton Suspension Bridge bear the name of the victor in this contest, but Goram is arguably more famous.
So thank you Vincent, on behalf of all Bristolians for this magnificent gorge, for without you, Brunel would not have been able to create his masterpiece.
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