Kids in Medieval times
While many kids in medieval times did not have the perceived privileges that are accessible to today’s kids, children in the medieval time period and children now have a lot in common. As we know, due to a harsh, unforgiving environment a great number of children did not survive in the middle ages, however, the majority of children did go on to lead full lives and were regarded as a central part of their families right from birth, just as kids are today.
Work and Play
Though children were not expected to ‘work’ day after day, as is a common misconception, they were expected to contribute to some of the household duties, even from before adolescence. This type of ‘work’ is also common for many children today! Naturally, the poorer the family, the more essential it was for children to contribute to the workload. Children in the Middle Ages were usually expected to do things such as tending livestock or farm animals, working with crops or growing vegetables, or caring for their younger siblings throughout the day. And while it varies from country to country, for many children all over the world today, this is also the case.
Playing was as natural and healthy for kids then, as it is today, and a daily occurrence. And although digital technology wasn’t invented, kids were just as engrossed in their play then as they are now. In the Medieval time period, children’s toys were not digital but were almost always handmade, as there were no glorious toy shops or supermarkets like we have now. Handmade toys included dolls (or poppets), tops and blocks, sticks and stones. Children in the Middle Ages – as today sometimes even made their own toys out of items found around the house, pots and pans, blankets, sticks and stones – whatever the imagination required. And the older children were expected to read – if they could, or tell stories to the younger ones. These stories were usually myths or tales about history or legendary heroes.
At Kids Dig It! Medieval Family Fun this July (Monday 2nd-Friday 6th July), we are re-visiting the medieval era and re-creating the toys that were a common part of the lives of children in that period. We are making Poppets, we are doing some ‘Page Training’ complete with hobby-horse, lances and obstacle course. We are offering Archery Skirmish on two mornings, you’ll also find Medieval Needle-Work, Illumination (Medieval Calligraphy) workshops – with each activity intended to give you and your children an accurate depiction of leisure activities of days gone by. This is an event full of hands-on fun, educational opportunities based on medieval daily life. It’s good to compare and contrast, how lucky are the kids today compared to Middle Ages kids and what can we learn from the activities that were commonplace then.
If you would like to experience a snap-shot of children’s lives in the medieval time period with a modern twist, bring the kids along to our Medieval Family Fun Week at the Abbey Museum in the July school holidays.