“The most handsome mercat cross in Scotland”
When I have a free day to seek out a mercat cross, I instantly think I need to travel far. So I was surprised to find that Prestonpans has one of the best mercat crosses I’ve ever seen and is less than a half hour drive away from the centre of Edinburgh.
Cared for by Historic Environment Scotland, this cross is the only one of it’s type still on its original site and is one of the most beautiful examples I’ve seen so far. Heavy on the early 17th century design it features a prison within the cylindrical base and a tall shaft with a unicorn finial, as well as scalloped recesses mirrored around the base.
You can look through a metal grate to see the steps that were used by those who would call the proclamations from atop the monument’s base.
We parked nearby at the car park near Preston Tower, (the number 26 bus from the city centre will also get you here).
The tower is in some lovely landscaped grounds that I imagine look even better during spring/summer, complete with a doocot. We decided to explore this first before navigating our way to the mercat cross.
If you are approaching from the small car park – walk through the gardens and out through the metal gates, turn right and keep a lookout on your left. The cross is right by a residential area and beside a road (opposite Prestonpans Primary School).
How to get here:
Train to Prestonpans from Edinburgh take around 14 minutes and are usually less than a fiver.
#26 Lothian Bus or a scenic drive.