Avon Gorge

Down the many centuries as ships sailed up to the port and from even before the city existed, the Avon Gorge has made a lasting impression on all who have seen it.

Naturally myths grew up about the place. The tale of the two giants, one named Goram and the other called either Vincent or Ghyston who created the gorge, has several versions - that they were trying to make a place for the animals to drink, that they were vying for the love of the lady Avona or that they were giant brothers who were just plain bored, deciding to dig out the gorge ''to make Envy die at and Malice grown dumb... and astonish the natives in ages to come'. There is a sad end to each version, usually one of the giants perishing from some accident and the other dying through grief at the tragedy.

Composed mainly of carboniferous limestone, the 'stupendious rocks' as Millerd called them on his 1673 map, also contain bands of iron ore and veins of quartz. At the Great Fault a bed of millstone grit was forced up when the rocks were folded millions of years ago. The rocks contain many fossils of corals, shellfish and other ancient sea-animals.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the sides of the gorge were considerably modified by human activity. The Great Quarry and Black Rock Quarry operated for many years, stone from the latter being used, amongst other things, for pitching and paving in the city.

In 1840 complaints were made in the newspaper that 'frightful inroads have been made upon those bold projecting rocks that once overhung the river' and of the incessant noise of the workmen's implements. Five years later there were reports of workmen employed in blasting the rocks in 6 or 8 different places. From then on there were increasing complaints about the blasting happening at any time, with stones being thrown into the air at great force, endangering the general public and those travelling on the river.

By the end of the 19th century all quarrying had ceased on the Clifton side of the gorge although it still carried on after that on the Somerset side.
Along the top of Black Rock Mr Wallis had built a wall back in the 1740s, as a preventative measure against people accidentally plunging over into the gorge. This area became known as the Sea Walls.

Many of the cliffs are clothed in greenery. Some plants are common wiild flowers, others are rare, a few grow only in the Gorge.
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