Documents Show Medieval Russia Through the Eyes of a Child

Hundreds of birchbark drawings dating from the 11th through 15th centuries have given a new insight into life in medieval Russia. Among the documents are a number of children's drawings. Birch trees were abundant around medieval Novgorod and bark stripped from them became a very used writing surface. Over the past few years, researchers have studied hundreds of "birchbark documents," pieces of bark inscribed with all manner of messages from shopping lists to love letters. Among the most fascinating are children's drawings which look remarkably like their modern counterparts. The birch drawings are somewhat unique since the writing surface was plentiful, allowing children to express themselves.

In his online article "The Art of Onfim: Medieval Novgorod Through the Eyes of a Child," Paul Wickenden of Thanet discusses medieval children's drawings and shares examples.