Curator Meriel Jeater writes:
We can take culinary inspiration from even earlier: the medieval period, when people marked the three weeks of Advent with religious fasting. When celebrations began on Christmas Day, one of the treats were Yule Dolls. These were biscuits a bit like gingerbread men, in the shape of people or animals. They were flavoured with honey, nutmeg, saffron, lemon and currants, and had raisin eyes and orange peel mouths.
I read about them in a very fun book, Medieval Holidays and Festivals by Madeleine Cosman, and thought they sounded delicious so I decided to make some. I adapted a modern gingerbread recipe, took out the sugar (not common in England until much later) and replaced it with honey, and substituted the ginger with nutmeg and saffron.