York Civic Trust has been placing commemorative plaques to people and places on buildings in York since the 1940s. The plaques celebrate York's rich history of brilliant buildings, special places of interest and famous characters who have helped shape York over the centuries.

As part of the Festival, York Civic Trust is proud to present four self-guided walking trails, each using plaques as a starting point, to entertain, inform, and engage residents and visitors as they stroll around York. Themes include Literary York, Artistic York, Scientific York and Radical York.

Each trail takes 30 to 60 minutes of walking and reading time and is no more than a mile long. They can be accessed via a webpage on a PC, smartphone or tablet, or downloaded as pdfs.

Please visit yorkcivictrust.co.uk/heritage/trust-trails

Trust Trails

Literary York

The city of York has a rich literary history and has been producing books since the 8th century. As well as the birthplace of some of Britain’s most celebrated and influential authors, Daniel Defoe and Charles Dickens were regular visitors and even reference the city in their works.

Starting on Stonegate, this whistle-stop trail takes in some of York’s most iconic and scenic spots, including specialist bookshops and a grand 13th century library. And of course, the trail will also introduce you to some Civic Trust Plaques commemorating influential figures in the national and international literary scene. 

Artistic York

While William Etty is undoubtedly York’s most renowned artist, the city’s artistic connections and traditions are rich and varied. Aside from oil painters, York is associated with sculptors, designers and stained-glass artists.

The lives and artistic works of these men and women, including where they lived, worked, studied, exhibited - and in the case of Etty, where he is buried - are explored in this mile-long trail. Their stories reveal passions for conservation, heritage, domesticity and civic pride, which remain true to what continues to make York such a special place today. 

Scientific York

York is a city of science, and today the University of York is an international leader in Biotechnology and Environmental Sustainability and Resilience. Two hundred years ago York scientists were leading the way in our scientific understanding of medicine, Earth sciences and measuring the Universe. This historical science trail explores the life and achievements of some of these remarkable men and women.

Their stories share a set of life experiences that still resonate today, each one working to overcome disadvantage in the form of poverty, lack of opportunity, ill-health or disability with support from their family, friends and communities.

Radical York

From a 19th century same sex ‘wedding’, to the leader of a rebellion against Henry VIII, York’s history is peppered with radicals: social, political, cultural. But just how radical back then, and today, were these people, places and groups and what impact did they have on life in their own day and in the decades and centuries that followed? Some led unusual lives, and some even gave their lives, for causes that today may be forgotten. Join a tour of trailblazers and find out where, when and why York’s radicals became ground-breakers of their day and beyond.

Find out more at yorkcivictrust.co.uk/heritage/trust-trails