Back to the Future

Copyright DMcIlmoyle

Copyright DMcIlmoyle

Do you want to know where I’ve been since September? Well, somewhere in the early ’70s. The days when a spacehopper was a legitimate form of perambulation – until you got your first chopper. Back when tank tops were Fair Isle sweaters without sleeves, Angel Delight was the height of sophistication and all bread was white. That’s right, I’ve had s*d all internet connection.

For the benefit of those of you outside the UK, we have a weird telephony heritage. For much of the 20th century, our hard lines were held in a duopoly between BT, who had virtually all of them, and Mercury, who for some strange reason had a monopoly on service for the city of Kingston-upon-Hull. The market’s been a theoretical free-for-all since the ’90s but in practice, if you live in a rural area, you’ve got one choice and that choice is the original provider.

Celtic head from Netherby, at Tullie House. Copyright D McIlmoyl

This is how I feel about this subject.

Ofcom tell me that the national average broadband speed is 17.8Mbit/s but ‘superfast’ broadband is now reaching an average 47Mbit/s. I was getting 0.18 Mbit/s most of the time, with a corresponding upload speed of 0.06, if it was uploading at all.

This meant that I struggled to upload posts onto WordPress and, after Windows 8.0 removed the ability to easily downsave pictures to a small file size, it was impossible to upload photographs.

Cumbrians being Cumbrians, we haven’t been sitting on our hands. Alston, the highest town in Britain, has had its own network for years. The Eden Valley has a wireless mast system which works fantastically well for those within line of sight of the mast. There are other similar schemes. The local council also reckons it’s rolling out superfast fibre broadband with the assistance of the aforementioned former monopoly, but at the moment *coughs* it rather looks like those townies who already got a decent connection have now got a superfast connection, and those of us who always struggled are forever being told ‘in the next six months’. Allegedly.

So, I’ve entered the Space Age. The neighbours now think I work for MI6, or have a *really, really big* Sky TV package… but I have broadband! A cracking 24Mbit/s delivered from a satellite in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles over my head. And I can now post on WordPress.

Copyright DMcIlmoyle

Copyright DMcIlmoyle

I’ve had a few ideas for posts in the last seven months. In no particular order:

Coel Hen, the legendary ancestor of the Men of the North

The gargoyles of Carlisle cathedral

The significance of the saltire (shape) on early medieval finds

Why are so many ancient sites called ‘Maiden Castle’ (including Mayburgh Henge. Sic)? And the Maiden Way?

The Maiden Way, silver and Roman forts

Rhieinmelth, the last princess

The Viking burials at Cumwhitton

Holloways, lanes and the myth of the ocean highway

The origins of the west Cumbrian shipping industry

When Workington was at the height of all things new

Holed garden stones as apotropaia – folklore or Victorian fancy?

Sky gods, tarns and axes

Belatucadros, Penrith’s bloodthirsty god (allegedly!)

Hueteris – who he?

The Brigantes and the Carvetii – so much legend and so little fact

The ‘deer people’


The catastrophic flood of Skinburness

Lake monsters!

Countess Ossalinsky

Spillers’ fields

Castle Hewen



David I, a Scottish King in Carlisle

Mme D’Estrange and Anne Clifford

Warriners, Lickbarrows and Kellets

Carlisle’s single ducking

Jenny Greenteeth

Hazel and rowan

Kings of the North Pennines

Copyright Diane McIlmoyle 28.04.15