Doodling the Middle Ages

Modern people doodle when bored. So too, apparently did medieval scribes, according to Dr Erik Kwakkel, a book historian at Leiden University, Holland, who posts "medieval eye candy" that he comes across during the course of his research on his blog. (photos)

"When you see the monks expressing their personalities, their sense of humor, it makes you feel like you're traveling back through time. It's like you're going through the keyhole and sitting right next to them," Kwakkel says. "Normally, scribes would doodle or write snatches of lettering after cutting their nibs, to make sure they were the correct width." These pen-tests ranged from the sort of scribbled lines that people still do today to words, names, full sentences, or simple drawings. Sometimes we even find pretty good drawings."