It was this month in 1915 that something virtually unthinkable today happened: the ancient site known as Stonehenge went up for sale at auction.

And what happened during and after that auction was pretty mind-boggling too.

Just a reminder, Stonehenge is believed to be about 4,500 years old.

It’s known all over the world as an astounding example of the ability and creativity of ancient people.

Today, sites like this are usually in the hands of government agencies or nonprofits so that they can be maintained and preserved.

But that’s a relatively new best practice.

Stonehenge had been on privately-owned land since at least the 1100s.

In 1915, its owner was Sir Edmund Antrobus.

His family had owned the Stonehenge site for almost a century, but when he passed away, the site went up for public auction.

The winning bid of £6,600 came from Cecil Chubb.

He said only that he bid “on a whim.”

One story says that his wife Mary sent him to the auction to buy some curtains and he came back with Stonehenge instead.

But almost as soon as he’d bought the site, he gave it away.

Stonehenge wasn’t strictly a public site, but the public was already fascinated with it – probably too fascinated.

Souvenir hunters were cutting off pieces of rock and generally disrupting the area, to the point that one of the site’s rock stands fell over.

Chubb gave the deed to the UK so that Stonehenge could be preserved and enjoyed by everyone.

He even got the country to agree that locals would be allowed to visit for free.

In return, Chubb was named the Baron of Stonehenge.

His coat of arms included the Latin phrase “Saxis Condita,” which in English means “Founded on the stones.”

Today in 2019, the BBC reported on Josh Thompson, a copywriter in New Zealand who got a note from HR asking for a meeting.

He figured, accurately, they were going to lay him off, and in New Zealand, the law said workers could bring a “support person” with them to a layoff meeting.

Thompson brought a clown named Joe, who made balloon animals as the HR team gave the bad news.

Stonehenge sold for £6,600 a hundred years ago today (English Heritage)

New Zealand: Man brings clown to redundancy meeting (BBC)

With enough support from Patreon backers, we could keep this show going for, oh, 4,500 years

Photo by Andy Powell via Flickr/Creative Commons