British historian Max Adams believes that 7th century King Oswald has been overlooked as a hero. This opinion was apparently shared by author J.R.R. Tolkien, when he based his own warrior king Aragorn on the early English monarch who also "was exiled as a young man before returning to his homeland in order to claim his birthright and become king." (photos)
Adams is the author of the book King in the North which describes Oswald as the man who helped unite Britain and convert the English to Christianity. In addition to the Lord of the Rings connection, Adams also feels that the epic poem Beowulf may have been based on Oswald, who became King of Northumbria and established the monastery at Lindisfarne.