FP100: No. 78

Crail mercat cross
Crail mercat cross

Crail Mercat Cross

Many a mercat cross isn’t actually cross shaped and Crail’s is a perfect example of one bearing a symbol of the Scottish monarchy – the unicorn, our national animal.

Now located on the Marketgate to the east of the Tolbooth, the Crail Mercat Cross comprises a shaft, dating from the early 17th century, together with the unicorn finial which was added when the cross was re-sited in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887.

The village’s Market is worthy of note though, with Crail becoming a Royal Burgh in the 12th century.

Robert the Bruce granted permission to hold markets on a Sunday, in the Marketgait, where the Mercat Cross now stands.

Apparently the decision caused such outrage in religious circles that John Knox delivered a sermon at the nearby parish kirk condemning the fishermen for working on a Sunday. Despite the protests, the markets were a huge success and were, reportedly, amongst the largest in Europe.

With the Crail Capon atop the Tolbooth, the Mercat Cross is a reminder of how prosperous the fishing village once was.