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The Timekeeper's Return

A story-based treasure hunt for all ages using QR codes and live role-playing. Help time-travelling researcher Dr. Mia Augustina return to the present and discover hidden histories of locations in Canterbury's Cathedral Quarter.

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A one-day narrative-based immersive treasure hunt for all ages, in which players scanned QR code stickers to discover stories about locations in Canterbury’s Cathedral Quarter. Commissioned by Canterbury Cathedral Quarter, an association of local businesses in an historic area of Canterbury city centre, the event was a great success, with over 200 participants taking part and several winning prizes provided by local businesses as a reward for completing the treasure hunt.

The Timekeeper’s Return told the story of Dr. Mia Augustina, a time-travelling historical researcher who uses her power to explore the everyday lives of pilgrims and settlers in Canterbury throughout the ages. Her time machine, an antique navigation device called an astrolabe, automatically records her research diary entries from the past in the form of QR codes, which are then visible in the present-day landscape.

When Mia’s device malfunctions during her travels, trapping her in the past, she needs some help to re-calibrate it and return to the present. As well as storing information, the astrolabe’s QR codes act as triangulation markers, which will connect the two timelines when scanned in order in the present day, and bring Mia back home.

Reading the research notes from each code enabled participants to navigate to the next, following Mia’s travels through the ages and the things she encounters in these different time periods. This journey evoked a wider reflection on the people, events and objects that give meaning to the places we inhabit in our everyday lives, as well as the wide range of social and cultural forces that have shaped the landscape in this historic quarter of Canterbury.

The process of making The Timekeeper's Return involved 800 hours of work, including writing 18 QR code story snippets amounting to 7,500 words, prototyping and testing the game, research, marketing and logistics.

Read the blog series about the making of The Timekeeper's Return:


Skills used



“What struck me most as I completed the treasure hunt was how Jack Lowe’s enthralling story weaved past and present together so expertly. Blending local history with real-life connection to businesses in the Cathedral Quarter today, participants had the opportunity not only to learn about the often-overlooked stories and landmarks that make this historic quarter so unique, but also to visit a diverse range of shops and eateries, engaging with people there who are passionate about what they do.”

“The Timekeepers Return was enlightening, exciting and intriguing. The storyline delivered a fascinating experience, and the people we met along the way enchanted with clues and messages from the story. A wonderful way to spend an afternoon, exploring and learning - we felt like children again with a sense of wonder!”

“It made me pay attention to aspects of the city I never would have noticed before, I learnt a lot and had a lot of fun. Everything was perfectly planned and went very smoothly.”

“An excellent idea which was executed very well, providing a highly enjoyable and great learning experience to all involved.”

“Not only was it fun to spend the afternoon doing something different, but it also gave us an opportunity to get to know the history of Canterbury better, thanks to the vivid storyline. We also spoke to people we never would have had conversations with otherwise, like the shop assistants and other people who were doing the treasure hunt.”

“Thank you for a lovely afternoon exploring shops and learning history from Canterbury that we had no idea about! It was so immersive and such a joy to take part in, from the hosts to the fantastic staff in the shops we visited we were thrilled!! Thank you again!”

“I loved this so much! The story, the use of technology, the awesome staff at the local businesses, the hunting for those tiny QR codes and, most of all, learning so much about this area of Canterbury and seeing things I'd never noticed before.”

“We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. We learnt about Canterbury’s history and also discovered new shops we didn’t know existed. Thank you so much!”

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Team management

Character design

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