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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday May 31, 2022

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Isabel Crespo

Isabel Crespo

Former Business Development Coordinator, Education , Europeana Foundation

Bringing digitised medieval objects into compulsory education

The ‘Art of Reading in the Middle Ages’ (ARMA) project saw curators work with educators to design inspiring and innovative learning materials using digitised medieval manuscripts. We previously explored how these materials were developed for post-secondary education - today, find out the work done for pupils in primary and secondary schools. 

Detail of a presentation miniature with Christine de Pisan presenting her book to queen Isabeau of Bavaria
Christine de Pisan from BL Harley 4431, f. 3
c. 1410-c. 1414
British Library
United Kingdom

Educating with medieval manuscripts

How did medieval reading culture evolve and become a fundamental aspect of European culture? This is a question which ARMA - running until August 2022 - aims to explore. The project has made around 28,000 medieval items (manuscripts, early printed books, coins and other objects) available through the Europeana website, but has also focused on education. Partners have worked directly with educators at non-formal institutions and with teachers, lecturers and students at schools and universities to co-create content around these medieval items.

The production of learning materials for primary and secondary education has been led by Hunt Museum, one of the consortium partners, with Hannah Bloom Teskey as main educator. Partners have developed games, video tutorials, learning scenarios and templates to bring children closer to the story of these medieval objects. Paloma Pucci, collaborator in this project of Bibliothèque nationale de France, was also inspired by Hunt's work, to develop an extra set of materials about coins for primary education. Find out more below. 

Hunt Museum: learning calligraphy, design, ink making and reading with digital manuscripts

Over the life of the project, the Hunt Museum has developed three programmes for primary education: calligraphy, reading out loud and making ink. 

Thanks to the calligraphy educational materials, primary school pupils can learn about the technique’s process and history. They have the chance to compare and contrast examples of manuscripts from Europeana’s collections, explore historical objects associated with the practice of calligraphy, and to create their own piece of calligraphy using a hand-made calligraphy pen. 

Their reading out loud programme offers primary school students a greater understanding of the practice of reading aloud in medieval times, the shift towards silent reading, and how this changed our relationship with the written word. To motivate students to learn about it they will begin by playing the interactive Reading Aloud Game, suitable for any history and art lover. Try out the game below!

Also for primary educational audiences, the ink educational set of videos introduces pupils to ink making in the medieval period and provides tutorials on how to make ink from foraged and natural materials found in your nearby area.

For secondary school students, the Hunt Museum produced three learning scenarios: the Medieval Graphic Design Programme that invites students to use digital medieval manuscripts, including fonts and imagery, as inspiration for their own graphic design projects; the Making Medieval Books, that explore this process through a variety of materials including video-based resources, blogs, galleries and workbooks; and, Reading in the Middle Ages Programme, that introduces students to the history and function of reading, and explore reading as a means of understanding medieval society. 

Bibliothèque nationale de France: connecting word and image with digital coins

Inspired by Hunt Museum's prolific work for primary educational audiences and the new collection of coins integrated during the ARMA project on the the Europeana website, the Bibliothèque nationale de France developed Reading medieval coins, a programme that introduces primary school students to these antique tokens. From accumulating wealth, to political, religious and historical propaganda, students discover the different ways in which coins were used in the Middle Ages. Through an interactive online activity, students create their own coin, imagine and map their own land, and use their coins to trade resources with their classmates. Try out the game below!

Use these resources

The video series, educational blogs, learning scenarios and galleries created for the ARMA project have been integrated into Europeana Classroom and are also available on the ARMA website. Explore them today!