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.

The books I picked & why

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The Anglo-Saxon World

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

Book cover of The Anglo-Saxon World

Why 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.


Anglo-Saxon England

By Sir Frank Stenton,

Book cover of Anglo-Saxon England

Why 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.


History of the English Church and People

By Bede,

Book cover of History of the English Church and People

Why 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.


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

By Max Adams,

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

Why 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.


The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

By Anne Savage,

Book cover of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

Why 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Anglo Saxons, World War 2, and London?

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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