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

By Thomas Williams

‘A beautiful, beautiful book . . . archaeology is changing so much about the way we view the so-called Dark Ages … [Williams] is just brilliant at bringing them to light’ Rory Stewart on The Rest is Politics

From the bestselling author of Viking Britain, a new epic history of our forgotten past.

This is the world of Arthur and Urien; of the Picts and Britons and Saxon migration; of magic and war, myth and miracle.

In Lost Realms Thomas Williams uncovers the forgotten origins and untimely demise of Britain’s ancient kingdoms: lands that hover in the twilight between history and fable, whose stories hum with gods and miracles, with giants and battles and ruin. Why did some realms – like Wessex, Northumbria and Gwynedd – prosper while others fell? And how did their communities adapt to the catastrophic changes of their age? Drawing on Britain ’ s ancient landscape and bringing together new archaeological revelations with the few precious fragments of surviving written sources, Williams spectacularly rebuilds a lost past.

Format: Paperback
Release Date: 28 Sep 2023
Pages: 432
ISBN: 978-0-00-817198-8
Thomas Williams is author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Viking Britain. He was a curator of the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend in 2014 and is now Curator of Early Medieval Coins at the British Museum. He undertook doctoral research at University College London and has taught and lectured in history and archaeology at the University of Cambridge.


‘Sceptical, scrupulous, written with wit and flair’Financial Times -

”'This brilliant history of Dark Age Britain mixes serious scholarship with nods to pop culture, from Tolkien to The Wicker Man… Lost Realms is a joy to read” - The Telegraph, FIVE STAR REVIEW

”'Williams makes a compelling guide as he steers us through the darkness” - Spectator

”'Williams has a fine command of the literary, administrative, religious and archaeological sources of early medieval Britain. He is a diligent scholar and a likeable writer” - Sunday Times

‘Thomas Williams is an exceptionally vivid and exciting writer, and his wonderfully evocative recreations are just what the generally impoverished and bewildering evidence for early medieval Britain requires. He is also however a meticulous, honest and fair-minded scholar, and his careful analysis of that evidence, material and textual, always establishes its limitations as well as its potential. His consideration of the losers of Anglo-Saxon state building provides a genuinely original and illuminating perspective on how England came to be’Ronald Hutton, author of The Witch -

'Thomas Williams has blended a potent brew of mythic and material fragments to raise forgotten kings & queens (and their stories) from the grave. An historian not afraid of the dark and with eyes adapted to it - what he sees is assessed sagely and described beautifully'Christopher Hadley, author of Hollow Places -