TORS OF DARTMOOR

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Sharpitor (Lustleigh)

Sharpiter, Sharp Tor, The Nutcrackers, Nut Crackers, The Christening Stone

The main part of Sharpitor is famed for not only once being a popular picnic spot but also for having a logan rock known as the 'Nutcracker' in its midst that was allegedly toppled by vandals on 6th May 1950 (Elisabeth Stanbrook 2000). According to the author the Parish Clerk of the time Mr F Amery thought the rock was "dislodged by young men with crowbars out for mischief". In the Western Times of May 19th Miss WM Cook of Nutcracker Cottage confirms this "I saw two men with crowbars on Saturday night and they told me they were going to push a boulder over. I was on my way back to my cottage when I heard a crash. Had I known they intended to push over the Nutcracker I would have done my best to stop them." Although the incident was widely reported in the press at the time, some local residents believed the Nutcracker to be still intact and that the rock that was overthrown was one known as the Christening Stone just a few feet away, this being a far more distinctive one with rock basins atop that had been occasionally used for the christening of local children either with rainwater or bringing holy water up from the village church to the site.

However, despite these claims local parishioners commissioned the army to recover the 10-ton stone from the slope and no less than forty Royal Artillery men were put to work led by Major R. Lucas, Capt. Bill Juniper and Lieut. B.J. Pennington. But the work was fraught with problems as ropes frayed, knotted, twisted, and parted too readily. The intended 30-foot lift took a whole day rather than the estimated two hours and in the end the operation to raise the stone was abandoned when it slipped out of the noose altogether and crashed even further down the hillside.

Throughout her article Stanbrook explores the possibility that the toppling of the Nutcracker was a case of mistaken identity with the vandals targeting the more prominent Christening Stone instead. She uses black and white photographs to show the position of the different stones and cites the testimony of a Mrs Mary Swale who was able to demonstrate the cracking of hazelnuts to not only a number of soldiers but also a Daily Mirror reporter thereby proving that the Nutcracker stone was still intact. Indeed, accounts of post 1950 visits to the logan long after the furore had died down and its ability to crack open nutshells lends more support to its ongoing existence at the site. Indeed, the name of Nut Crackers (logan stone) still appears on OS maps.

Once clearly visible from the path above, the giant tor is now well hidden in trees and dotted with gorse bushes, making the main rocks quite difficult to access. As with most of the tors along the top of Lustleigh Cleave there are occasionally glimpses of the valley side below with breathtaking views. Down on the lower slopes of Sharpitor there is another impressive flat-topped overhanging logan stone first noted by Tim Jenkinson in May 2012.

Sharpitor (Lustleigh)
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 7720 8145
Height:
262m
Parish:
Lustleigh
Tor Classification:
Valley Side
Access:
Public
Rock Type:
Granite
Credit:
William Crossing
Elisabeth Stanbrook
Ordnance Survey
Reference:
Ordnance Survey Maps
William Crossing (1912): Guide to Dartmoor
Tim Jenkinson: East Dartmoor The Hidden Landscape: Rocks and Tors
Elisabeth Stanbrook (2000): Nutcracker Puzzle Dartmoor Magazine number 58 pp.8-10
The Western Times May 19th 1950 'The Nutcracker of Lustleigh'

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