The Rent Stone, The Dun Stone
A conspicuous boulder can be found in the heart of the small hamlet known as Lower Dunstone, a mere 1km south of Widecombe in the Moor. What the boulder lacks in size does not affect its fascinating wealth of history, and its surroundings are undoubtedly beautiful. OS Maps dating to 1904 name the feature as 'Dunstone Rock', whilst John Hayward, in his book 'Dartmoor 365', offers up the name of 'The Dun Stone', which would suggest the hamlet was named after the rock but, while plausible, there is no evidence to confirm that is the case. Meanwhile, Harry Starkey, in 'Dartmoor Crosses and Some Ancient Tracks' p.103 offers the alternative name of 'The Rent Stone', its origins first told by William Crossing, although the name was not mentioned.
Crossing, when describing a walk to Widecombe in his book 'The Ancient Stone Crosses of Dartmoor' wrote; "Just before reaching the village we shall pass by the hamlet of Dunstone, where, on the green, is a large block of granite, from which it has been thought the place may possibly have taken its name. Here, in former times, the manor courts were held, and the chief rents were deposited in a hollow on this stone. The late Mr. Dymond resolved to revive this custom, and about twenty years ago an open-air court was held here." Harry Starkey later tells us that; "To avoid infection from the coins with which they paid, when the Black Death was raging, the saucer shaped depressions were filled with vinegar - as a form of disinfectant - and the coins placed in the vinegar."
Starkey goes on to describe a cross situated in the immediate vicinity, a fine example of a restored monument; "On the green will be seen a large granite boulder and an ancient granite cross. Both are noteworthy and of local importance. The cross has only recently been restored to its proper place, having been removed by a former Vicar of Widecombe to a position in the vicarage garden at some date prior to 1860 after the cross had fallen down. It was bought back to Dunstone and re-erected as it now is in 1981 by the munificence of Miss M. Hamlyn."