BRLSI’s Bath Discovery Trails App

Scroll back into Bath’s past with our BRLSI Discovery Trails smartphone app! 5 different 90-120 minute trails exploring Bath and its rich history.

Everyone knows about Bath, the Romans, and the city of Jane Austen’s time. But did you know about the Jurassic creatures found here? Or that Bath was once considered the cradle of English geology? Or even that many great scientific discoveries were made in this city?

Let ‘BRLSI’s Bath Discovery Trails’ smartphone app, designed around the great museum collection at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, introduce you to a Bath that you didn’t know existed.

Download the app, set your best foot forward, and then scroll on to step back in time with a series of walks around Bath’s world heritage sites.

Read the BBC interview with our Collections Manager, Matt Williams, about the 160-million-year-old Jurassic crocodile featured in the App and on display for the first time at Bath Royal.

Thanks to funding from The Art Fund, the head and jaw of the crocodile, which is yet to be given a species name, are featured in the Bath Discovery Trails app, under the The Railway Leviathan walking trail section.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is also supporting Bath Royal to use digital media to reach new audiences for the App, as well as their other programmes.

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BRLSI - Trails App

BRLSI’s Bath Discovery Trails

These trails are an ideal way to find out not only about the city’s rich past but discover at the same time something about the history of our planet. The  stories included in the trails span 4.2 billion years: from the very formation of our planet to the lost worlds of extinct species, from the friendship that forged Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ to the world’s first industrial war.

Four of the trails focus on a single object from the collection of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI), each trail will take you on a historical journey through the city to reveal a detailed and fascinating story about that object’s connection to Bath and BRLSI. Each of these trails will lead you back to the Institution where you can view (for free) the objects that inspired each walk.

The fifth trail is focused on the life of Jane Austen in Bath, and though there isn’t an object on display at the end of the trail, perhaps you will be inspired by our other collections or intrigued by our programme of talks and events when you arrive at our premises on Queen Square.

The trails are aimed at adults and children aged ten and over; each will take 90-120 minutes to complete.

There are five great trails to choose from…

The War Crosses

Take a closer look at the human cost of conflict through the city’s war memorials and the soldiers who experienced this first industrialised war. In this trail you will discover the places where returning soldiers were treated for their injuries, the houses where army generals lived, and the memorials to the fallen. Once you complete the trail you will be able to view relics of the Crimean War, part of BRLSI’s extensive collections related to human conflict across the centuries.

Bath Royal - Bath Trails App - The War Crosses

The Origin of Species

Learn about one of the world’s most important scientific books through the lens of a very local friendship. Charles Darwin spent his life gathering data based on his observations of animals and plants, which would lead to the development of the theory of evolution. This trail explores the lifelong friendship between Darwin and Leonard Jenyns, who lived here in Bath, through a correspondence that reveals a shared love for natural history and intellectual curiosity about the natural world. Jenyns donated his library to BRLSI and, once you have completed the trail, you will be able to see his own copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, alongside a letter he wrote to Darwin.

Bath Royal - Bath Trails App - On the Origin of Species

The First Meteorite

Imagine an object from outer space that is small enough to fit in your hand and is 4.2 billion years old. This trail explores ‘deep time’ and the very origins of our solar system through a story that connects 18th-century astronomers with druid temples and a Siberian forest. Once you have completed your journey to BRLSI you will be able to see this unique fragment from the earliest years of the universe.

Bath Royal - Bath Trails App - The First Meteorite

The Railway Leviathan

Rediscover a lost world, here in Bath. This trail brings to life extinct species from a time before human beings and explains how the industrialisation of Bath’s landscape in the nineteenth century unearthed long lost creatures that once roamed the land and swam in the seas where Bath now stands—and how BRLSI was crucial in preserving that prehistoric past. At the end of this trail you will be able to view the skull of a Jurassic steneosaurus, just one of BRLSI’s many fossils.

Bath Royal - Bath Trails App - The Railway Leviathan

Jane Austen’s Bath

Through this trail discover how Jane Austen lived as a resident in Bath from 1801 to 1806. Although she used the city in her books, she herself was pleased to escape in July 1806. Her time as a resident was difficult: her father died, as did her best friend, and she had the care of her mother who was something of a valetudinarian. Austen’s letters at this time reflect her impoverished status and the underlying sadness of her situation.

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Art Fund


The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution is grateful for the generous support of the Art Fund and M. St J Way Charitable Trust in developing the Bath Discovery Trails app and accompanying exhibition. We also thank South West Museums Development for supporting the development of the ‘Jane Austen’s Bath’ trail.

BRLSI’s Bath Discovery Trails app has been designed by staff and postgraduates from Bath School of Design, Bath Spa University: Rupert Bassett, Isabel Hurley, Maidei Kambarami, Edna Monteiro, Nicky Stevens, Tim Vyner, and Rosie Yates.  

BRLSI’s Bath Discovery Trails is powered by TrailmakerPRO™.

The accompanying exhibition has been prepared by Matt Williams and Jude Harris.