The best books on the world of Anglo-Saxon Britain

Who am I?

Matthew Harffy is the author of ten novels set in the early medieval world. His Bernicia Chronicles, follow the saga of Beobrand as he moves through the echelons of Anglo-Saxon society, fighting in many battles and dealing with the intrigues of the ever-increasingly powerful men and women with whom he mixes. Recently, with Wolf of Wessex and the A Time for the Swords series, Harffy has covered the early Viking Age with his usual eye for detail, historical realism and a gripping plot.

I wrote...

A Time for Swords

By Matthew Harffy,

Book cover of A Time for Swords

What is my book about?

When the Vikings attack, a novice monk's life is changed forever. There had been portents – famine, whirlwinds, lightning from clear skies, serpents seen flying through the air. But when the raiders came, no one was prepared. They came from the North, their dragon-prowed longships gliding out of the dawn mist as they descended on the kingdom's most sacred site. It is 8th June AD 793, and with the pillage of the monastery on Lindisfarne, the Viking Age has begun.

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The books I picked & why

The Anglo-Saxon World

By Nicholas J. Higham, M.J. Ryan, Nicholas J. Higham

Book cover of The Anglo-Saxon World

Why did I love this book?

This beautifully produced book is full of insight and up-to-date knowledge about the Anglo-Saxons and the world they inhabited. From the migration period of the 5th century all the way to the Domesday Book and the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain, the book covers everything in great detail with accessible writing and glorious images.

By Nicholas J. Higham, M.J. Ryan, Nicholas J. Higham

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Anglo-Saxon World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Anglo-Saxon period, stretching from the fifth to the late eleventh century, begins with the Roman retreat from the Western world and ends with the Norman takeover of England. Between these epochal events, many of the contours and patterns of English life that would endure for the next millennium were shaped. In this authoritative work, N. J. Higham and M. J. Ryan reexamine Anglo-Saxon England in the light of new research in disciplines as wide ranging as historical genetics, paleobotany, archaeology, literary studies, art history, and numismatics. The result is the definitive introduction to the Anglo-Saxon world, enhanced with a…

Anglo-Saxon England

By Frank Stenton,

Book cover of Anglo-Saxon England

Why did I love this book?

This is the granddaddy of history books about the Anglo-Saxons. Much of the history has evolved and moved on since its original publication in the 1940s, but Sir Frank Stenton is comprehensive and thorough and the resulting tome is jam-packed with information.

By Frank Stenton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anglo-Saxon England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discussing the development of English society, from the growth of royal power to the establishment of feudalism after the Norman Conquest, this book focuses on the emergence of the earliest English kingdoms and the Anglo-Norman monarchy in 1087. It also describes the chief phases in the history of the Anglo-Saxon church, drawing on many diverse examples; the result is a fascinating insight into this period of English history.

Book cover of History of the English Church and People

Why did I love this book?

As close as we come to a first-hand account of events in the first part of the early medieval period. Writing in the early 8th century, Bede was able to interview some of the people who had witnessed events he describes. Bede was undoubtedly writing from the Christian perspective and he was certainly biased in favour of his native Northumbria, but his words are like a window into the past and how people (or at least the clergy) thought.

Book cover of The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria

Why did I love this book?

For anyone interested in the history of Northumbria in particular, and more broadly, the British Isles of the seventh century, Max Adams’ The King in the North is the must-have book. Ostensibly, it is a biography of King Oswald of Northumbria, but in reality it covers much of the century and what transpired before and after his reign.

By Max Adams, Max Adams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The King in the North as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A triumph - a Game of Thrones in the Dark Ages' TOM HOLLAND.

The magisterial biography of Oswald Whiteblade, exiled prince of Northumbria, who returned in blood and glory to reclaim his birthright.

A charismatic leader, a warrior whose prowess in battle earned him the epithet Whiteblade, an exiled prince who returned to claim his birthright, the inspiration for Tolkein's Aragorn.

Oswald of Northumbria was the first great English monarch, yet today this legendary figure is all but forgotten. In this panoramic portrait of Dark Age Britain, archaeologist and biographer Max Adams returns the king in the North to his…

Book cover of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

Why did I love this book?

This book covers the entirety of the history of the Anglo-Saxons in their own words. Like Bede’s History, it suffers from bias, depending on the scribe writing each section and what kingdom they inhabited, but it is a fascinating year-by-year account of the rise and fall of kings and clergy, and of the battles and natural phenomena faced by the people of early medieval Britain.

By Anne Savage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The authentic voices of England, from the time of Julius Caesar to the coronation of Henry 2nd.

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