FROM SCRATCHWOOD TO WYCHWOOD

Borough Hill, Daventry

in the days of satellites and microwaves, Borough Hill's historic antennae look increasingly quaint, a museum piece in the making. Until recently, these masts still transmitted - as a relay for "ham" radio - but even that has now ceased.

In broadcasting terms, Daventry was never anything more than a name on a dial - it transmitted material produced elsewhere. However, performers would regularly turn up at the door, ready to perform, so strong was the association between the BBC and Daventry. In the end, the Beeb built a small studio near the masts, just to cope with these innocents. On one occasion, that studio had to accommodate an entire symphony orchestra (who presumably sacked their agent the next day).
Today, Borough Hill only has one aerial mast left, clustered with minor transmitters for mobile phones and the like.
As we leave Daventry to its own devices, still driving on the A361, the future reveals itself on the Western horizon; a modern shaft of perfect concrete, crowned with a cluster of tight little dishes. It's on Big Hill, near Staverton, and, catching the low sunlight, it's quite beautiful. It communes with dozens of like structures throughout England; indeed, with such telecommunications towers across the globe. In bursts of staccato binary code, they propagate telephone calls, television programmes and computer data, to keep the mills of the information industry grinding.

Just a mile further on, the past emerges again, in the shape of Arbury Hill. This, like Borough Hill, was an Iron-Age settlement.

Only three miles apart, the two communities must have glowered at each other across the intervening wildwood.

Which one would make it through to the Radio Age?

Sadly, Arbury didn't get the Roman villa, didn't get the coach traffic, didn't get the radio station.

On the map, it's no more than a name in archaic script. That's history for you.

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