This fantastic site is right on the ancient Ridgeway path, along a section of its eastern end, and is part of the scarp slope of the Chilterns looking out over the Vale of Aylesbury and Didcot, Oxford etc. It (the Ridgeway) is full of power, an important route since at least Iron Age times. I love to stand up here looking out to the West and Northwest in the knowledge that the same path will lead past hundreds of other powerful ancient sites all the way to Avebury. This area is linked with other barrows, camps and sacred sites at for example Pulpit Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon. If you dig for a little background history this whole area comes alive, fitting in with the rest of prehistoric southern England like a jigsaw piece.
I'm just wondering if some of the people getting pissed were me or my friends, mentioned by the previous contributor - nothing wrong with a little ritual libation! What a place to meditate or mark a solstice (we've NEVER lit campfires though).
'...50 feet high by 25 long, from a pyramidal base (Bledlow Cross has none) 340 feet wide. It can be seen from Shotover and many a point in the vale, just as the White Horse can from Faringdon Folly and many a point in the vale. The Sinodun Hills are visible from Whiteleaf and the blue veil of the Berkshire Downs as though let down from heaven. The Cross saw and was meant to be seen with the range of the falcon.
As I argued in a book written some years ago, it has stood or rather leaned against the bluff above the Way from the time when tin ingots on men's shoulders, flint from the factories at Grime's Graves, wool-tods on pack horses, sheep, cattle and ponies, chapmen and pedlars, pilgrims and soldiery passed along the Ridge Way on the summit, first as a solar or phallic sign and from the eighteenth century onwards as a cross.'
J&C Bord say that Whiteleaf Cross has not been dated, but that a local boundary mark called 'Wayland's Stock' was mentioned in a charter of 903AD, and perhaps they're one and the same. 'Stock' could be interpreted as alluding to something stick-like (which rather ties in with the hypothesis that the cross is actually a christianised phallic symbol). But perhaps that's just finding what you want to / expect to find.
(info in their 'Atlas of Magical Britain', but no more details about what charter it was from)
One of the most intriguing stories about the cross (hinted at but not explained on the Bucks CC website) is that the present day cross shape was originally a large phallic shape. The Bucks CC site mentions that it has almost certainly been altered since the 18th C; I can imagine what both the Church and pious villagers in the Vale below had to say about a hundred foot dick in full view every day. I only wish there was evidence for the original shape, so they could spend their 75,000 quid restoring it to that!
I just mentioned before the Base on which the Cross is erected, and that its form came near to that of a Triangle. This is an essential part of the monument, and, I think, ought to be called the Altar of the Cross. The common people indeed know no other name for it than The Globe, nor do I doubt their veracity in adhering to what they have been taught to call it; though, I fear, not by the first authors of the monument.
From Francis Wise's 1742 'Further observations upon the White Horse and other antiquities in Berkshire. With an account of Whiteleaf-Cross in Buckinghamshire.'
The Globe. I suppose that's like the Orb topped with a cross (the type that goes with a Sceptre). Though Fleas (see above) might take its spherical properties as support for his own argument.
Paul Nash painted the site more than once. This link is to a watercolour held by the Tate. There's also an oil painting on this link which could be the one owned by the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.