Many townships across Scotland would not have reached prominence without a mercat cross. A mercat cross, Scottish for market cross, was a sculpture that denoted a market square in a market town. The only way a marketplace could be established was through the ordination of a monarch, aristocrat, or person of the cloth.
Possessing a mercat cross also allowed villages to conduct trade with other municipalities. It was a highly beneficial denotation as it made a township more prosperous and desirable to live in. It also provided a place for merchants and tradespeople to gather and discuss business. This location would also be the site of civic announcements and public punishments.
There are over 100 mercat crosses scattered across the country. The one located just off Inverkeithing’s High Street is believed to have been established around the mid-14th century. Like so many structures of its kind, it was relocated to its present location due to modernization.
The cross is adorned with a unicorn, the symbol of Scotland, which was contributed by John Boyd. There are also four sundials attached to the pillar to assist the community in identifying the time.
Know Before You Go
The Mercat cross is always open for public view day and night. It's located at the intersection of Bank and High Street. It is around 10 minutes outside of Edinburgh and will require crossing Firth of Forth. The town of Inverkeithing is along the Fife Coastal Walking Trail and can be reached by both rail and bus services.