Lost Realms : Histories of Britain from the Romans to the Vikings

Lost Realms : Histories of Britain from the Romans to the Vikings

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by Thomas Williams

9780008171964

18 Aug 2022

From the bestselling author of Viking Britain, a new epic history of our forgotten past. As Tolkien knew, Britain in the 'Dark Ages' was a mosaic of little kingdoms. Many of them fell by the wayside.

Some vanished without a trace. Others have stories that can be told. ELMET.

HWICCE. LINDSEY. DUMNONIA.

ESSEX. RHEGED. POWYS.

SUSSEX. FORTRIU. In Lost Realms, Thomas Williams, bestselling author of Viking Britain, uncovers the forgotten origins and untimely demise of nine kingdoms that hover in the twilight between history and fable, whose stories hum with saints and gods and miracles, with giants and battles and the ruin of cities.

Why did some realms - like Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and Gwynedd - prosper while these nine fell? From the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coastline, from the Welsh borders to the Thames Estuary, Williams brings together new archaeological revelations with the few precious fragments of written sources to have survived to rebuild a lost world; a world where the halls of farmer-lords survive as ghost-marks in the soil, where the vestiges of hill-forts cling to rocky outcrops and grave-fields and barrow-mounds shelter the bodies of the ancient dead. This is the world of Arthur and Urien, Bede and Taliesin; of the Picts and Britons and Saxon migration; of magic and war, myth and miracle. In riveting detail, Williams uses Britain's ancient landscape to resurrect a lost past where lives were lived with as much vigour and joy as in any other age, where people fought and loved and toiled and suffered grief and disappointment just as cutting as our own.

In restoring some of these voices, he raises questions matching many we face today: how do nations form and why do some fail? How do communities adapt to catastrophe, and how do people insulate themselves from change? How do we construct the past, and why do we - like the people of early medieval Britain - revere it, often finding in the tales of those long-gone a curious sense of belonging?