Edinburgh is a city filled with many treasures.
Some treasures that I stumbled upon, I didn’t even discover what they were until I returned home and searched for them.
One such treasure was the Mercat Cross.
In case you’re wondering what in the heck is a mercat cross (I know I was), it’s the Scots name for a market cross. They were first erected to display a burgh’s right to trade, as well as a gathering place to hear important public announcements.
Last week, I shared my photographs and the history of St. Giles’ Cathedral. You can see from the photographs that the Mercat Cross is located in Parliament Square, near the East Side of St. Giles’ Cathedral.
At the time, I just liked the architecture of the little building. I didn’t realize its historical place.
While the first mention of the Mercat Cross is in a charter of 1365, this pillar was placed upon this octagonal building, at this location, in 1885.
I’ve since learned that there is an octagonal arrangement of cobblestones along High Street that mark the location of the Mercat Cross from 1617-1756. I know one thing that I’ll be looking for when I return in May.
The Royal Unicorn sits atop the cross holding a shield. You can also see the Scottish Flag beside him.
The Mercat Cross is a popular gathering spot for tours. The people gathered in the photos were about to head out on a ghost tour.
Of course, no tour of a building is complete without sharing a door for the fans of Thursday Doors.
The tympanum above the door is in Latin and reads “Thanks to God. This ancient monument, the Cross of Edinburgh, which of old was set apart for public ceremonies, having been utterly destroyed by a misguided hand A.D. MDCCLVI, and having been avenged as well as lamented, in song alike noble and manful, by that great man, Walter Scott, has now, by favour of the Magistrates of the City, been restored by William Ewart Gladstone, who claims through both of his parents a purely Scottish descent. 24 November 1885” (source: Wikipedia).
What little gems have you stumbled upon when traveling?
Let your light shine!