This map shows the major - and not so major- kingdoms of Britain during the sixth to ninth centuries. Places significant to my Dark Ages books are also included.
'Dark Ages' is a term that refers to the time between the Roman occupation of Britain and the conquest by the Normans in the eleventh century. During this time settlers from modern-day Germany - Angles, Saxons and Jutes - created several kingdoms in mainland England, the indigenous peoples of Wales and Scotland remained separate.
The number of kingdoms rose and fell according to the result of takeovers and alliances, but there were seven main ones that were consistent at this time. Often referred to as the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy, (accredited to Henry of Huntingdon in the twelfth century) these were Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Wessex, Sussex, Essex and Kent (Cantaware). Out of these, four were considered higher status: Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia and Wessex.
When the Danes took over huge swathes of the east of England, Alfred of Wessex became the leader of the Anglo-Saxons. Eventually Mercia, Sussex and Kent were absorbed into Wessex by 825. Northumbria was controlled by the Norwegian invaders and then reclaimed by the Anglo-Saxon rulers several times until definitively brought under English control by Eadred in 954.
On 12 July 927 the rulers of all the British kingdoms met in Cumbria and declared that Aethelstan was the king of the English. This in effect dissolved all kingdoms although the country was divided between the English and the Danes until the Norman conquest in 1066.
Anglo-Saxon coastline from David Hill, An Atlas of Anglo-Saxon England (1981). The pale areas marked 'sea, swamp or alluvium' show where little Anglo-Saxon settlement occurred, because, according to Hill, there was at different periods either large areas of mud, marshland or open sea.
Some locations are estimates as not enough evidence exists for accurate placements. Additional information A.J. Sefton (2012).