Queens, princesses, knights, merchants, slaves, pirates, ambassadors, magicians, kings, princes, servants, travellers… characters of many different racial, religious, or geographical origins feature throughout the tales read and told in the medieval world. However, they are often strangely absent from the modern stories and books that children read about this period, which tend to focus on ‘national’ traditions and European settings. It is time to tell new stories – time to include a range of perspectives and voices and to give better representation to global communities in the ways we talk and think about the Middle Ages.

This project will bring together creative writers and storytellers, illustrators, and academics to adapt, (re)imagine, and (re)tell medieval stories. We aim to:

  • Highlight the variety of attitudes towards race in the Middle Ages
  • Confront the realities of medieval racism
  • Challenge modern Eurocentric ideas about the Middle Ages
  • Show the cultural, racial, religious, and geographical diversity of this period

Through our storytelling workshops and written/illustrated tales, we will address the over-representation of whiteness and under-representation of racial difference in the things that children read about the Middle Ages.

Our quest begins both with children’s author Anna Kemp, who is retelling the French epic tale of Huon de Bordeaux from the thirteenth century, and with an upcoming event as part of the Big Scottish Story Ripple, with local storyteller Mara Menzies… watch this space for updates!