In an article for the History Today, Patrick Wormald, Lecturer in History at Christ Church, Oxford, looks at the myth of a unified Anglo-Saxon England.
From the article:
In 1991, the British Museum staged an exhibition entitled 'The Making of England'. It was of course a superb show, and must have taught its countless visitors an immense amount about the culture of the early Christian English. But one thing about it was inept: its title. The period covered was from the coming of St Augustine in 597 to the death of Alfred in 899. Many very important things happened in these centuries. The 'Making of England' was not among them. There was no single kingdom of the English even at the end of the period. There had been a progressive reduction in the number of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms between the sixth and ninth centuries, leaving only four by 865. Of these, only one, Alfred's Wessex, survived the attentions of the Vikings. But this was a kingdom of the West Saxons, not of 'the English' as a whole.