Momentous Britain is four brothers originally from the Home Counties, now dispersed all over the country.
We trained as an engineer, a lawyer, a scientist and a goldsmith, but were not very good at any of them. Instead we worked in finance,
the Civil Service, IT and as a hairdressing salon proprietor. We are all enthusiastic amateur naturalists and historians.
No longer in the first flush of youth - or, indeed, the second - we have time to indulge some pet theories, most of which
involve momentous events in British history. Our favourites are the great battles, achievements, discoveries and characters
that have made a lasting impact on British life.
We resolved to record our theories and investigations for posterity. Health problems and a congenital propensity to get distracted are slowing us down.
We have therefore decided to publish them on this website as quickly as our poor concentration will allow, starting with some of our favourite battles.
At the current rate we hope to finish some time in the 2030s.
Our idea of momentousness means lasting impact. In many cases it is difficult to measure. Not to worry. This is our website. We try to be objective, but we don't have to justify
our scores. Our scale is from five gold medals, for things that have significantly impacted most people or places in the developed world, down to one medal, for things that would go virtually
unnoticed if we did not find them interesting.
Those things that have been momentous only within Britain will receive our version of the Brit awards - "MoBrits" - instead of gold medals.
We have two key rules:
1) Momentousness follows a dependency chain. This is difficult to explain but some examples might help.
- Oxygen. Joseph Priestly 'discovered' Oxygen in 1774. Carl Scheele
claimed to have 'discovered' it a year earlier. Neither of them knew what they had found. It was Antoine Lavoisier who made the important discoveries that formed the
basis for subsequent research. By our rule, the momentous contribution to chemistry history was made by Lavoisier and whoever gave the impetus for his work. Priestly and Scheele both have a claim.
Scheele says that he told Lavoisier about Oxygen in a letter. Priestly says that he told Lavoisier about Oxygen in a personal visit. Lavoisier acknowledged Priestly's visit but denied receiving
a letter from Scheele, so Priestly gets the momentousness nod.
- Computers. Tommy Flowers designed and built Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic computer. It was a monumental achievement that turned the course of WWII and saved
countless lives. It was a momentous achievement in terms of its human benefits. But the chain of technologies that lead to the modern computer derives from the University of Pennsylvania's
ENIAC device. Even though ENIAC was a similar design to Colossus and Colossus was in production use two years earlier, it was a wartime secret. As far as anyone knows, ENIAC took nothing from
Colossus. It is therefore the ENIAC team at the University of Pennsylvania that made the momentous contribution to computer history.
2) An invention or discovery only earns the momentousness of its brought-forward benefits. This rule reflects the incontrovertible truth that all inventions and discoveries that can be made
will be made eventually. Thus, prestige aside, an invention or discovery does nothing more than bring forward the benefits that depend on it by the time it would have taken someone else to
make that exact same invention or discovery. Sometimes this period is crucial. In the case of Colossus, for instance, even a delay of a few weeks might have changed the course of history. In the
case of Fleming's discovery of antibiotics, it might have been 20 years before anyone else made the same discovery. Not only did Penicillin save hundreds of thousands of lives in those
20 years, but it brought forward the discovery of other antibiotics by 20 years which saved tens of millions of lives. The impact is more marginal for the majority of inventions and discoveries,
because the research is mainly driven by the heat of competition. Very often someone else would have made the same invention or discovery within months (hours in the case of
Bell's telephone). To get a good momentousness ranking from us, inventions or discoveries have to address an urgent need or to have been so profound and/or radical that it would have
taken many years for someone else to have made the same invention or discovery. Newton's Laws of Motion and Maxwell's Equations on Electromagnetism are the epitome of the
scientific discoveries what we rank highly. We know that this rule favours creative people like authors, musicians and artists, at the expense of analytical people like scientists,
inventors and mathematicians, but we think it reflects reality.
Quests are a challenge to visit a bunch of related places. One Quest, for example, is to visit all of England's medieval cathedrals; another to visit all of Britain's UNESCO World Heritage sites.
They are not supposed to be quick or easy. Some might take a lifetime. They are just a way of organising and recording visits to the most interesting and momentous places in the country. We have
been to them all in the course of our blogs and hobbies. We hope that you find them interesting too.
Each Quest typically has twenty to thirty places to visit. We refer to them as Quest Points. We are aware that some of the places are not open all the time and some are expensive. In nearly all
cases we have therefore set the Quest Point at the nearest accessible location, often outside the entrance. We will trust that you went inside. In order to find Quest Points and monitor your progress,
we have created a completely free Quest Tracker mobile device app. It can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or Google Play. Search for 'MB Quest Tracker'. There are lots of similarly named
apps. Ours is the one provided by Resource Exchange (Google Play) or Jonathan Starkey (App Store) with the logo to the right.
When you have bagged all the Quest Points for any one Quest, you will receive a 'title'. In the case of the medieval cathedrals Quest, for instance, the title is Medieval Cathedral Master Explorer
For some Quests you can also receive a 'Quest Passport'.
Momentous Britain tends to organise new investigations, blogs and Quests around major event anniversaries. In order to plan our work, we maintain a database of major events. We share that with you
on our Anniversaries page.
any details about you, your devices or your usage to anyone else. We have no agents. If you want to use Quests, you must register with a valid email address which will be verified. This is only to
provide a mechanism to reset your password, and to link between our mobile app and our cloud databases. We will store a digest of your password and some basic information about the devices you use
to connect in order to optimise our mobile app. We do not provide any of your information to any third parties.