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Retford's medievil contactless payment system during the plague.

Published: 20/04/2020

We have all walked past it 1000 times but do you know what the huge column of stone is in the market square, outside of the town hall?

Its called the Broad Stone. When you mention The Broad Stone most people remember (what they can) of the bar / night club that used to occupy the premises that are now Spencer's on Square, I know I certainly do!

However The Broad Stone itself does have an interesting story, it dates back to medieval times and during the plague the domed out top was filled with vinegar. In order to avoid the spread of disease purchasers of goods would place coins in the vinegar as a means of disinfectant. They would then collect the goods that they had purchased, which were left out on the street for collection. Once the plagued purchaser dissipated the merchant would then collect their disinfected coins from the broad stone.

There were a total of four broad stones in Retford, does anyone know the current locations of the others?

Retford actually suffered terribly during the plague, an outbreak in 1558 wiped out half of the population of West Retford and around 300 people in East Retford. The River Idle marks the boundary between the two.