We thank everyone who took the time to participate in Beaconnect, and all the other RSGB Coronation special events.  This page is retained as a record


The UK has a network of ancient fire beacons whose original purpose was to signal major events between what were then more isolated communities. They have been used since at least Roman and Anglo-Saxon times.

They have also historically been used to mark Royal events but they are not being lit for the 2023 Coronation.

We would love to use amateur radio to link the sites of this ancient signalling network. As well as being a great opportunity to showcase amateur radio, it is likely that we would be able to achieve media interest in this type of event.

These historic beacon sites are usually both good for radio and reasonably accessible without the need for any specialist outdoor equipment or long hikes.

This page contains links to other websites that we hope are helpful, but please note you use these external sites solely at your own risk.

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What’s it all about

Activation could be as simple as visiting the beacon site and calling CQ, but the intent is that groups of radio amateurs set up nets linking beacon sites locally or at county and regional level.

Achieving a complete loop around the country would be a challenge but certainly possible with co-operation from groups of radio amateurs.

Beaconnect is intended to start in May once the licence has been issued by Ofcom and end on 30 June 2023, so there’s plenty of time for radio amateurs to organise their participation.

Let’s see what we can achieve together!

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Which beacons can be used?

There are reputed to be some 4,000 of these beacons, with many having a fire basket on a pole or other feature, while others may simply be the site of a large bonfire used for this signalling.

Several thousand beacons were lit for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 but it appears that quite a few of those were temporary locations set up for that specific event.

For Beaconnect only those sites with a permanent beacon structure or a reasonably inferred history of use for ancient signalling are appropriate please; any temporary Platinum Jubilee beacon locations are not, given the King’s decision not to light them.

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How do I find a beacon near me?

Finding a beacon may need a bit of research; that’s all part of the fun and gentle challenge of this event:

  • You may know of beacon sites local to you
  • For example, there could be a Beacon Hill or similar in the locality, which is likely to be a historic beacon site and therefore appropriate for this event
  • Sheepy Bonfire Society Neighbourhood Watch is an example of a community who have contacted us to show how they have embraced their local permanent beacon for all kinds of social events, and similar local history or archaeological societies might be able to assist.

While there doesn’t seem to be a central record online we have found some information that should assist:

Local knowledge is key!

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Ofcom have kindly provided a block of SSES callsigns, GB23BAA to GB23BZZ for use with this event, of which 670 are available.  Your site will need to be registered for intended operation so that potential activators can find out which other sites are working in their vicinity, to form a record of the event, and for Ofcom licensing.

Please register here.

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Operation could be on HF, VHF (or higher) or you could maybe try more experimental approaches such as using optical communications, or novel RF modes like Rattlegram (YouTube video).

Morse Code is always enjoyed by people of all ages at outreach events, and it is also having a resurgence in the media, so get your CW keys (or a mobile phone app?) ready!

Please keep your activation low impact, particularly in view of the nature of the beacon sites.  Big towers or masts, power amplifiers and generators etc. are inappropriate – it’s not a high power QRO event!

What you do is up to you but we would like to see plenty of QSOs to facilitate the Beaconnect Award and to connect as many beacons sites as we can please.

Paper QSL cards are not being provided since the possible number of cards is huge, so at the request of the volunteers running the Bureau, all QSL’s for this event must be electronic please.

You may wish to set up a page for your selected beacon, covering as much detail as you wish (or not!)?

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Important notes for beacon activators

Would activators please:

  • Only operate from or near the beacon sites, not from home or club premises for example, but operation from a parked vehicle is fine
  • Make sure your activities are entirely safe and in full compliance with your licence at all times
  • Take care of, and respect, these community sites.  Many of them are likely to be Scheduled Monuments and/or Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI’s); any interference with them or damage to them is a criminal offence.  In this regard please take particular care with any antenna supports.
  • Ensure that you obtain any necessary permissions from landowners before operating, and we suggest make sure you have appropriate insurance in case of mishap, all as is usual for portable operations!
  • Note that your activities in this event are undertaken solely by you at your own risk and the RSGB cannot be held responsible for any liability as a result of your participation in it.

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Net organisation

The idea is for beacon activators to contact as many other beacon sites as they can into a net or loop of stations, and then pass a message around that net, to simulate use of the sites over the centuries using fire baskets, but with radio instead.

The nets and loops can either be organised before they take place or activators can be on site during activity periods that are known in advance. A complete loop around the UK is quite an undertaking, but one we would very much like to see, and will certainly need planning!

We will set up an email reflector on Groups.IO where activators can get together to organise their nets and loops if they wish.

For those who would rather use the radio to organise a more ad hoc net or loop we are suggesting two activity periods everyday, 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm, although we anticipate that, as always, the weekends will be busier.

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We have created a set of FAQs that you may find useful

Above all

Enjoy and have fun!

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