History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

History Resource Cupboard - lessons and resources for schools

How much can Doom paintings reveal about Medieval attitudes to the afterlife?

Doom paintingsIn this enquiry your class will tackle to purpose and utility of sources in an engaging and thoughtful way.

To enthuse them from the beginning you get them to draw each other’s head on a thumbnail-sized piece of paper. They then place their heads in an image of Hell. Having described all they can see, hear and smell they will be interested to know more about these ‘doom’ paintings.

Having introduced the big question your class will be supported to make inferences from the painting. Extra challenge or access is provided.

You then throw them the ‘googly’ by asking them if Hell is really like the painting shows? Of course, it is impossible to tell. However, the fact that such paintings exist tell us about peoples’ attitudes from the time.

The next stage of the enquiry is to find out more about medieval attitudes the afterlife. What does the painting not tell us?

To provide you with the information here there is a scripted role-play/dialogue between priest and villager that you can act out, read as a class or work on individually.

By this point, your class now will have enough knowledge to be able to return to the big question and answer it.


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  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
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  • Worksheet 1: PDF

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