Somewhere between the departure of the Roman legions in the early fifth century and the arrival of Augustine's Christian mission at the end of the sixth, the kingdoms of Early Medieval Britain were formed. But by whom? And out of what? The First Kingdom is a skilfully wrought investigation of this mysterious epoch, synthesizing archaeological research carried out over the last forty years to tease out reality from the myth. Max Adams presents an image of post-Roman Britain whose resolution is high enough to show the emergence of distinct political structures in the sixth century - polities that survive long enough to be embedded in the medieval landscape, recorded in the lines of river, road and watershed, and memorialized in place names.