In an age of evocative names like Eric Bloodaxe and Egil Skallagrimson, one name has been lost in the mists of time: that of Athelstan, ruler of all Britain. From the first raids of the Vikings on the shores of Britain and Ireland, the book traces the response to threat across the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic worlds. The rise of the kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons, and later, of the English, built from the debris of Viking destruction is analysed in detail and compared to the struggle for independence in Northumbria. Athelstan's achievement in establishing an empire for which he became famous is a key focus of the tale, along with the extraordinary history of the hunt for the lost battle of Brunanburh (AD 937), a clash which defined a people. For hundreds of years, no king would rule as much of Britain as Athelstan. His reputation survived the medieval period in the form of histories, songs and poems only to be lost at a later date, and yet its essence can still be found today all over the country.