EBK Activity Sheets



in the Dark Ages

  • Neither manuscripts nor archaeology tell us much about British and Saxon children, but we can work a few things out.
  • Some old drawings show that Saxon children wore short tunics (a bit like a very long t-shirt), tied at the waist. They did not wear cloaks like grown-ups and had bob hair-cuts.
  • Some documents indicate that they often didn't wear many clothes at all. They must have got very cold!
  • Times were hard and many children died of diseases, disabilities and accidents. Their graves sometimes tell us a bit about their lives. Girls sometimes wore simple necklaces or small brooches.
  • A few children's graves have contained toys: like a rattle, a fossil, some shiny 'fools' gold' or a worn & discarded brooch.
  • Archaeologists have also found leather balls and wooden spinning tops.
  • Children made their toys from whatever was available to them. They were probably mostly made from things that have all rotted away. Later Medieval documents tell us of hobby-horses and swords made of sticks, boats made of bread and dolls made of cloth.
  • There is one Saxon drawing of a child playing with a hoop and stick. This game was still popular in the early 20th century.
  • A few documents tell of other ways in which children liked to play back then: playing in gangs, wrestling, acrobatics, playing musical instruments, singing, doing animal impressions, playing on the beach. Not much has changed.
  • Some documents mention children riding on sticks and copying grown-ups in other ways. Like playing house or doctors & nurses today.
  • Children often helped grown-ups do daily chores, like plucking chickens or spinning wool. Girls' graves sometimes contain weaving battens or spindlewhorls which they used in their chores.
  • Boys' graves might contain knives or small spears. These were dangerous tools and weapons but, in those days, boys had to learn to use them from a young age.
  • Only very rich children went to school.
  • By the time you were 11, you were thought of as a grown-up. At 14, you were expected to leave home!


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