Even the Venerable Bede knew little about the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms described in this book. In the sixth and seventh centuries the pagan peoples of the Hwicce and Magonsaetan occupied the frontier from Stratford-upon-Avon as far as the Welsh kingdoms west of Offa's Dyke. They retained their own kings, aristocracy and independent monasteries into the eighth century. Using archaeological, place-name and historical sources, Dr Sims-Williams describes the early conversion to Christianity of these people, the origins of the dioceses of Worcester and Hereford, and the precocious growth of Anglo-Saxon monasticism. Drawing on many neglected documents he reveals a wide range of Continental, Irish and Anglo-Saxon influences on the church and shows that the monasteries were as varied in character as the Northumbrian foundations described by Bede.