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 architectural history, special places of interest and famous individuals who have shaped York over the centuries. 

We are proud to offer four self-guided walking trails, each using plaques as a starting point to entertain, inform, and engage residents and visitors as they stroll around beautiful York. There’s something for everyone, with trails on Literary York, Artistic York, Scientific York and Radical York. 

Each trail lasts between 30-60 minutes of walking and reading time and is no more than a mile long. They are accessible via this webpage on a smartphone, PC or tablet, or downloaded as pdfs. 

The Trails…

Literary York 

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. 

Download as a pdf to use on your phone or print-off, or follow the trail online: https://yorkcivictrust.co.uk/heritage/trust-trails/literary-york/


Artistic York 

While William Etty is undoubtedly York’s most renowned artist, the city’s artistic connections 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. 

Download as a pdf to use on your phone or print-off, or follow the trail online: https://yorkcivictrust.co.uk/heritage/trust-trails/artistic-york/


Radical York 

From a nineteenth-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?

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.

Take this walk-around of the city’s historic trailblazers, visiting various spots that commemorate the radicals of York.

Download as a pdf to use on your phone or print-off, or follow the trail online:

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. 

Download as a pdf to use on your phone or print-off, or follow the trail online: