Sally Wilde

As the product of a Welsh mother and an English father, I feel well qualified to write about that mysterious time in the seventh century when Angles and Saxons were beginning the process of becoming English and Brythons were beginning the process of becoming Welsh.

Any search for information on this period will turn up far more about the Angles and Saxons than about the Brythonic peoples that they conquered/displaced over what is now England. Did the invaders engage in ‘ethnic cleansing?’ We don’t know, and current scholarship tends towards the view that the Brythonic peoples learned the language of their conquerors and adopted their ways, becoming invisible to history, rather than being wiped out. Clearly, there was a significant movement of refugees, most obviously to Brittany. Was the process brutal? Looking around me at the news of the twenty-first century world, I find it hard to imagine that it was anything but very brutal indeed.

So, as an historian of twentieth-century surgery, what am I doing bumbling about in the history of seventh century Britain? Well, having fun, mainly. You can do that when you retire, honest! And I don’t/won’t pretend to be an expert. I can’t read Latin; I have only a smattering of Anglo-Saxon; and to my shame, I have no Welsh at all, ancient or modern. So I rely entirely on the work of other scholars to translate the original sources.

Having said all that, I do have a BA in Social Geography (University of Sussex); an MPhil in Economic History (University of Nottingham); and a PhD in the History of Medicine (University of Melbourne); and I have written ten books and rather a lot of academic articles. Check out: if you are interested. Two years ago, I retired from my post at the University of Queensland and since then I have been wandering about in the history of the seventh century on a more or less full-time basis. The object of the exercise? To finish the novel about who murdered St Hilda’s father. Speaking of which: there are two journalists sitting in a bar. One says to the other: ‘I’m writing a novel,’ and the other answers: ‘Neither am I.’


10 Responses to Sally Wilde

  1. shirley lambert says:

    new email, but somehow, I can’t get through to you


  2. Charles Barnitz says:


    It occurs to me you would be interested in this site, if you are unaware of it.

    In particular the work at Lyminge in Kent, where they are excavating the peripheral site around the monastery founded in the 6th century on the site of a royal ville. They are examining the transition from royal ville to monastic foundation. Very interesting, particularly four parts of a seminar given by the head archaeologist, Dr. Gabor Thomas, and available on YouTube. I spent an hour or so watching it this morning and found it full of useful information.

    Chuck Barnitz

  3. Sally says:

    Thanks for that Chuck. Very interesting.

  4. Brenda says:

    I too have a great interest in Hilda and Hereswith and have done lots of personal research on them and their familial ties. I go often to England/France to try to follow some of their “footprints.”

    • Sally says:

      Thanks Brenda. Sorry for the delay. I have been in South America for the last month(!) If you have found out anything new about Hilda and Hereswith, I am sure we would all like to hear from you.

  5. Hi,

    I’ve just stumbled onto your blog whilst researching my second novel, which is based around the time of the ascension to power of King Oswald. I’ll add your blog to the links on my own blog and I’ll start trawling through the interesting stuff you have here.

    Come and visit me at and say hello!



    • Sally says:

      Thanks Matthew. Your blog looks very interesting. I am currently stuck in a hotel in Tokyo – plane had a fault and they off-loaded us all after 3 hours on the tarmac – ho hum – and the internet is dodgy here. But I’ll reply properly when I get home.

  6. Chris Wiseman says:

    Hi Sally,
    I’m wondering if you can help me and I’m struggling to find another way to contact you. It’s regarding (I hope it’s you) your 1991 release ‘Life under the bells : a history of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Melbourne 1891-1991’

    I was wondering if you can point me in the right direction of how to contact the publisher, or anyone in order to potentially get this book re-printed.
    I’m a new Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) Firefighter and would love to get my hand on a copy, but obviously limited copies (if any) are still available.

    Thank you for your time.


    • Sally says:

      Hi Chris
      Well that’s a blast from the past! I do actually have a couple of copies here. Where are you? I could put a copy in the post.
      Over the years, I have had a number of enquiries about how to get hold of this, but the publisher has been un-responsive. It is Longman Cheshire, but I am not sure whether they even exist any more and of course, back then I did not have a digital copy to print on demand. I have posted copies to people in the past, but I am now down to just two copies. You are very welcome to one, but then that is it. No more!
      If you let me have your address I will send you a copy asap.
      Kind regards and thank you for getting in touch.

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