A really new stage in Stonehenge history?

An interesting piece on Mike Pitt’s blog about the state of knowledge about the history of Stonehenge, well worth a look.

I was thinking about the future of our heritage the other day. The new government’s wanting to hand over services to the community, one suggestion I heard on the radio was for public libraries to be run by volunteers – it was suggested that if charity shops can survive in this fashion, then so can libraries.

Stonehenge – they could give it to the Druids (perhaps very shortly so as to be in time for the Solstice). It’s only worth £51 million, apparently, and it will save having the planned and presumably costly non-statutory Public Inquiry into the proposed Traffic Regulations Order, and any future spending on an new visitor centre. John Penrose, the new Minister for Tourism & Heritage who is responsible for tourism, heritage and the built environment, the Royal Parks and Royal Household, the National Lottery, licensing, gambling, and horseracing, could save the purportedly cash-strapped government a few bob there*.

Another money-saving wheeze the government has been bandying about is increased student tuition fees, as university students are seen as a burden on the taxpayer. David Willetts has said that students should consider fees not as a debt but “more as an obligation to pay higher income tax”. I’m not sure who else they should be a burden on – what value a degree to the taxpayer?

Has there been much research on the importance of a well-educated workforce to the economy as a whole? There’s often articles in the press about how much a degree is worth in increased earnings to the graduate. I found a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers which is couched in economic jargon which is in part meaningless to me, but it gives the estimated rate of return to the individual as 13.2%, and the estimated rate of return to the Exchequer as 11%.

* Well, the new Visitor Centre and the road closure at Stonehenge has today (17 June) been scrapped to save £25 million, so we’re stuck with the embarrassingly awfully ugly one we have.

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