Ancient Monuments

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Quainton medieval standing cross

A Scheduled Monument in Quainton, Buckinghamshire

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Latitude: 51.8749 / 51°52'29"N

Longitude: -0.9169 / 0°55'0"W

OS Eastings: 474657.250439

OS Northings: 220148.642998

OS Grid: SP746201

Mapcode National: GBR C0P.H04

Mapcode Global: VHDTX.243J

Entry Name: Quainton medieval standing cross

Scheduled Date: 30 May 1938

Last Amended: 26 July 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015267

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27150

County: Buckinghamshire

Civil Parish: Quainton

Built-Up Area: Quainton

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Quainton

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument, a Grade II* Listed standing stone cross, is located on the
northern edge of Quainton village green. The cross is of stepped form and
medieval in origin, with minor repairs of later date. It includes the base,
composed of three steps, surmounted by the socket stone and the remains of the

The flight of steps forming the base is roughly square in plan, and stands on
a bonded raft of large pebbles and rubble, measuring approximately 2.4m by
2.6m. The steps are constructed from large rectangular sandstone blocks, the
lowest step rising by about 0.45m and topped with flagstones of the same
material. The second and third steps ascend in pyramidal form, each rising by
c.0.23m and the latter supporting the socket stone: a square stone block
measuring c.0.7m across and about 0.48m high, topped by a matching flagstone
into which the shaft is set. The truncated shaft lacks both knop and head, and
stands to a height of c.1.2m. There are no records of the original appearance
of the cross, nor of the events which led to the shortening of the shaft.
Despite the weathered appearance of the shaft, the original octagonal section
can still be seen, and the broach stops at the base are still apparent.
The cross is thought to date from the 15th century, and may be contemporary
with alterations to the nearby parish Church of St Mary the Virgin and Holy
Cross, which utilised similar stone.

The stone slabs and cobbles forming part of the path on the northern side of
the monument are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A standing cross is a free standing upright structure, usually of stone,
mostly erected during the medieval period (mid 10th to mid 16th centuries AD).
Standing crosses served a variety of functions. In churchyards they served as
stations for outdoor processions, particularly in the observance of Palm
Sunday. Elsewhere, standing crosses were used within settlements as places for
preaching, public proclamation and penance, as well as defining rights of
sanctuary. Standing crosses were also employed to mark boundaries between
parishes, property, or settlements. A few crosses were erected to commemorate
battles. Some crosses were linked to particular saints, whose support and
protection their presence would have helped to invoke. Crosses in market
places may have helped to validate transactions. After the Reformation, some
crosses continued in use as foci for municipal or borough ceremonies, for
example as places for official proclamations and announcements; some were the
scenes of games or recreational activity.
Standing crosses were distributed throughout England and are thought to have
numbered in excess of 12,000. However, their survival since the Reformation
has been variable, being much affected by local conditions, attitudes and
religious sentiment. In particular, many cross-heads were destroyed by
iconoclasts during the 16th and 17th centuries. Less than 2,000 medieval
standing crosses, with or without cross-heads, are now thought to exist. The
oldest and most basic form of standing cross is the monolith, a stone shaft
often set directly in the ground without a base. The most common form is the
stepped cross, in which the shaft is set in a socket stone and raised upon a
flight of steps; this type of cross remained current from the 11th to 12th
centuries until after the Reformation. Where the cross-head survives it may
take a variety of forms, from a lantern-like structure to a crucifix; the more
elaborate examples date from the 15th century. Much less common than stepped
crosses are spire-shaped crosses, often composed of three or four receding
stages with elaborate architectural decoration and/or sculptured figures; the
most famous of these include the Eleanor crosses, erected by Edward I at the
stopping places of the funeral cortege of his wife, who died in 1290. Also
uncommon are the preaching crosses which were built in public places from the
13th century, typically in the cemeteries of religious communities and
cathedrals, market places and wide thoroughfares; they include a stepped base,
buttresses supporting a vaulted canopy, in turn carrying either a shaft and
head or a pinnacled spire. Standing crosses contribute significantly to our
understanding of medieval customs, both secular and religious, and to our
knowledge of medieval parishes and settlement patterns. All crosses which
survive as standing monuments, especially those which stand in or near their
original location, are considered worthy of protection.

Quainton Cross is a good example of a late medieval standing cross with square
stepped base and octagonal shaft. Situated on the north of The Green, it is
believed to stand in its original position. Minimal disturbance to the area
immediately surrounding the cross indicates that archaeological deposits
relating to the monument's construction and use in this location are likely to
survive intact. Unobtrusive repairs to the cross in recent years have ensured
that it remains in use as a public monument and amenity.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lipscomb, G, History and Antiquities of Buckinghamshire, (1847), 401
Page, F (ed), The Victoria History of the County of Buckinghamshire, (1914), 92-98
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
RCHME, An Inventory of the Monuments of Buckinghamshire, (1914)

Source: Historic England

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