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Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When Stonehenge Was Privately Owned

Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Mavratti, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Ask most people what they think Stonehenge is worth and they would likely tell you it’s priceless. But if you could ask Sir Cecil Chubb, he’d tell you it was worth £6,600.

It’s hard to imagine now, but the prehistoric monument hasn’t always been open to the public. For generations, the land it stood on belonged to the Antrobus family. Although the government tried to step in to help protect the site, the family declined the offers—until one of the large outer stones fell victim to a storm on December 31, 1900. When it toppled, it took one of the top stones, known as a lintel, down with it. The lintel cracked in half, making these pieces the first Stonehenge casualties since 1797.

After word of the damage spread, people began trespassing on Antrobus property to see it for themselves (and retrieve souvenirs). In response, the family fenced the attraction in and began charging a fee to see it. But one good thing did come from the damage: Whether it was out of concern for the monument or simply due to the paying customers, antiquarians were finally allowed in to help restore the stones in 1901.

In 1915, Sir Edmund Antrobus, the last Antrobus heir, was killed in combat. The site went up for auction, and that’s where Sir Cecil Chubb stepped in. He didn’t attend the auction intending to buy a piece of history, but when he saw the stones were up for sale, he realized he had an opportunity to buy his wife a one-of-a-kind gift. His wife, it was said, wasn't especially pleased with the gesture.

Just three years later, perhaps regretting his original investment, Chubb gifted Stonehenge to the nation. He shouldn’t have second-guessed it, though—a 2010 estimate put the monument’s worth at £51 million, or close to $80 million.

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Courtesy of Sotheby's
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History
Found: A Rare Map of Australia, Created During the 17th Century
Courtesy of Sotheby's
Courtesy of Sotheby's

More than 40 years before Captain James Cook landed on Australia’s eastern coast in 1770, renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu created an early map of the Land Down Under. Using geographical information gleaned from Dutch navigator Abel Tasman in the 1640s, it was the first map to include the island state of Tasmania and name New Zealand, and the only one to call Australia “Nova Hollandia.”

Very few copies—if any—of the 1659 map, titled Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), were thought to have survived. But in 2010, a printing was discovered in a Swedish attic. After being restored, the artifact is newly on display at the National Library of Australia, in the capital city of Canberra, according to news.com.au.

The seller’s identity has been kept under wraps, but it’s thought that the map belonged to an antiquarian bookseller who closed his or her business in the 1950s. For decades, the map sat amidst other papers and books until it was unearthed in 2010 and put up for auction.

The National Library acquired the 17th century wall map in 2013 for approximately $460,000. After a lengthy restoration process, it recently went on display in its Treasures Gallery, where it will hang until mid-2018.

As for other surviving copies of the map: a second version was discovered in a private Italian home and announced in May 2017, according to Australian Geographic. It ended up selling for more than $320,000.

[h/t news.com.au]

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geography
What's the Difference Between a Lake and a Pond?
iStock
iStock

Around 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered in water, which is why geographers have coined so many names to describe the forms it takes. But what’s the real difference between, say, a lake and a pond, a spring and an oasis, or a creek and an arroyo?

Vox gets granular with geography in the video below, explaining the subtle distinctions between everything from a bay (a part of an ocean, surrounded by water on three sides) to a barachois (a coastal lagoon, separated from the ocean by a sand bar). The five-minute explainer also provides maps and real-life examples, and describes how certain bodies of water got their names. (For example, the word geyser stems from geysa, meaning "to gush.")

Guess what? A geyser is also a type of spring. Learn more water-based trivia—and impress your nature-loving friends the next time you go camping—by watching the video below.

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