Edinburgh, High Street, Market Cross

Market Cross

Site Name Edinburgh, High Street, Market Cross

Classification Market Cross

Alternative Name(s) Mercat Cross

Canmore ID 52546

Site Number NT27SE 8

NGR NT 25771 73597

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

NT27SE 8 25771 73597.

(NT 2577 7359) Market Cross (NR) (restored)

(NT 2579 7361 and NT 2577 7360) Market Cross (NR) (sites of)

OS 1:1250 plan, (1970)

The Mercat Cross of Edinburgh is first mentioned in a charter of 1365 which indicates that it stood on the S side of the High Street, about 45ft E of the present E end of St Giles' Church (at NT 2577 7360). In 1617, the cross was taken down and re-erected on a new substructure lower down the High Street (at NT 2579 7361). This site is still marked by an octagonal arrangement of cobble stones. In 1756, the cross of 1617 was demolished; some parts were preserved, notably the capital and parts of the shaft, and re-erected at Drum House, Gilmerton (see NT36NW 35). Five of the eight circular medallions that had adorned the understructure are now built into the garden wall at Abbotsford (NT53SW 41), where there is also the basin of a fountain from which it is said that the central pillar of the Cross origianlly rose. A small oblong finial of freestone, which once formed part of the Cross, is preserved in the garden of Viewforth, Cammo Road, Barnton; it is dated 1641. The shaft, prior to 1756, was a single stone, but was broken, and five pieces were dressed square and clamped together to form the shaft at Drum, 13ft 11ins high. In 1866, the pieces from Drum House were set up on a new pedestal within the railings on the N side of St Giles' Church. In 1885, a new substructure was commissioned, and the cross was rebuilt on its present site. Finally, in 1970, Edinburgh Corporation replaced the shaft, preserving the unicorn finial, the capital, and two pieces of one of the old shaft stones.

The RCAHMS, who examined the capital in 1971, concluded that it belongs to the first half of the 15th century. The unicorn finial was set up in 1869 to represent the unicorn mentioned in accounts of the 1617 cross.

J C Robbie 1908; RCAHMS 1951; S Harris 1972.

As described.

Visited by OS (S F S) 26 November 1975.

Architecture Notes

See also EDINBURGH, High Street, City Chambers for photographs.

ARCHITECTS: David Bryce (Submitted design for restoration of Mercat Cross, Edinburgh)-not carried out

David Cousin (Submitted design for restoration of Mercat Cross, Edinburgh)-not carried out

Sydney Mitchell & Wilson-restoration


"Drum of the Somervilles" 1928 by Hamilton Moir Nisbet, for the position of the Cross at Drum


Robert Louis Stevenson's "Edinburgh"-a sketch entitled "A Royal Proclamation"

"History of the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh" by Thomas Arnold, 1885- "Prospect of ye Mercat Crosse of Edinburgh 1750" and a reduced copy of the Architect's drawing of "The Market Cross as restored in 1885".



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