The Mercat Cross

The Mercat Cross

The Mercat Cross, Edinburgh

The history of The Mercat Cross

The Mercat Cross, situated at the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, is a tangible link to the city’s medieval past. Dating back to the 15th century, it served as a hub of civic and commercial activity. The current structure, a replacement of the original, was erected in the 19th century. It stands as a symbol of Edinburgh’s enduring legacy as a bustling market town.

Cultural significance

The Mercat Cross holds significant cultural importance in Edinburgh’s history. It was not merely a market hub, but also the focal point of civic gatherings and proclamations. Its distinctive octagonal structure, adorned with a unicorn and the royal coat of arms, reflects the intersection of commerce and monarchy in medieval Edinburgh.

Why is it important to Edinburgh?

Located on the Royal Mile, the Mercat Cross holds a prominent position within the Old Town. Its proximity to other historic sites, including St Giles’ Cathedral and the Museum of Edinburgh, places it at the heart of Edinburgh’s cultural and civic life.

Key events

Just like in 1952 for the proclamation of the Queen’s succession, King Charles III’s accession to the throne was read from Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross in 2022 by the Lord Lyon King of Arms.

Additional information

The first recorded mention of the Mercat Cross was in a charter in 1365. In 1617 the cross was taken down and re-erected lower down the high street, the site is still marked by an octagonal arrangement of cobblestones. In 1765 the cross was demolished. The current Mercat Cross was constructed in 1885, but it retains some elements and features from the 15th century.
The Mercat Cross’s unique octagonal design, combined with its historical significance, sets it apart. It stands as a tangible reminder of the vibrant market life that once defined the Old Town.
The Mercat Cross is outside St Giles Cathedral, on the Royal Mile, in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town.

↪ Find on Google Maps

You can help protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site by joining Edinburgh World Heritage, by donating to us directly, or by attending one of our events.

For more information about how to support us, please use the links below.

If you would like to know more about the topic above, please contact us directly.