The Mercat Cross of Aberdeen, Scotland

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The pivotal point of many Scottish market towns are their mediaeval crosses, many of these ancient symbols of a town’s trading rights still stand to this day.  Although no longer valued for the privileges they brought, the old crosses that have survived the passage of time well deserve to retain the centre stage position in the heart of the town.  Although they are called crosses, they seldom take the form of a cross and usually comprise of a base and sometimes a stepped plinth, a tall slender shaft crowned with some kind of finial.  The larger and more important towns had more elaborate crosses.  They were also places where any royal or other proclamations would have been made.

Aberdeen’s ‘Mercat Cross’, mercat being the Scots pronunciation of market, this is from a law laid down in the late 1100’s  “all merchandises sable presentit at the mercat croce of burghs”


Back in the summer we were lucky that we were able to spent a weekend in Aberdeen.  I managed to take some photos of the cross with lovely blue sky as a backdrop, which was lucky as I remember the day before in Dundee the rain had pelted down, not enough to stop me from exploring though.

Aberdeen’s cross is in the Castlegate and is a fine example of the more elaborate structures.  Around is hexagonal base are intricately carved panels depicting  the Stuart monarchs, with dogs at intervals under the Stuarts.




A unicorn looks down from the top of its shaft.  Although we now look at the unicorn as a mythical creature, in times past there were few who disbelieved their existence and of the magical powers they possessed.  Unicorn because of their peers, were often taken as symbolic of Christ.

I have a feeling a new category is emerging and I think it could be quite interesting



12 Replies to “The Mercat Cross of Aberdeen, Scotland”

  1. What a lovely old structure, and I love the sculptures on it. I remember seeing the amazing Unicorn tapestries in Stirling Castle – they must have had a great religious significance, as you say.

    1. I couldn’t work out what it was from a distance and then when closer realised that maybe it was a market cross, but it is quite large, I love the dogs, they all had different expressions. But what amazed me is that Unicorns were thought to exist and have magical powers, and thats what the majority of people thought, although they had never seen one 🙂

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