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Melrose Town Trail

Mercat Cross


Mercat Cross

The Mercat Cross was traditionally a symbol of the trading rites of Scottish market towns and villages. A law passed by King William I (1165-1214) required that all goods for sale in burghs be presented at the "mercat and mercat cross". Not only were crosses centres of trade and symbols of a town's trading status, they were also used as sites of proclamation and punishment of criminals, usually in the form of public humiliation. The Mercat Cross of Melrose was originally the cross that had been at the entrance to the Abbey precinct at "The Bow". It had an associated piece of land nearby called "Corse Rig", the rent from which was used for maintenance purposes. The shaft was replaced in 1988 and the metal staple which held the jougs (iron neck ring in which criminals were shackled) was fitted to the new shaft. The octagonal base dates from the mid 19th century, having replaced a set of five steps. The capital (which was replaced in 1990) takes the form of a unicorn, the heraldic supporter for the Scottish Royal Arms.



The Unicorn

A public well was located near the Cross but this is now covered over. A fresh water supply was carried to the Abbey precinct in a system of lead pipes from springs at nearby Dingleton. Bear left and head through the narrow street called East Port. Notice the sundial on the fishmonger's shop on the corner and the ceiling boss from the Abbey which is built into the wall above Pyrocanthus's shop opposite. As the footpaths are very narrow, you should take care at this particular point.


Next: East Port


Melrose Town Trail

Walking in Melrose

walking in scotland with scottish walks.co.uk