The Mercat Cross

In 1651 troops under the command of Oliver Cromwell removed a Mercat Cross from the High Street in Perth using the stone to build his citadel (Oliver’s Mount) on the South Inch. The cross is said to have been a large structure.

In 1669 a new Mercat cross of elaborate design was erected in the High Street, Perth. This cross stood until 1765 when it was removed as it was an obstruction to the traffic in the High Street.

In 1767 Magistrates and the Town Council of Perth passed an Act for “the taking down of the Mercat Cross” which was “an obstruction to the free passage of the street.” Unfortunately when being removed the column was broken by the negligent workmen.

The 1669 Mercat Cross may well have been designed by one of the Mylne Family – Master Mason to the King. The cross was octagonal of Longannet stone with sides of 11ft 9ins and a base diameter of 32 feet. At each corner were bastions and conduits ending in animal heads. The column or shaft was a single stone 20ft high and 18 inches in diameter. A stone unicorn on top faced east and held a saltire flag on the banner which was surmounted by a thistle. The height of the octagonal base was 11ft and the total height to the thistle on the banner was 31ft.

The octagonal wall was decorated:

East side – Royal arms of King Charles II, date 1669.

West side – Arms of the town of Perth.

North side – Charles Rex II with imperial crown.

South side – Sword and sceptre with imperial crown.

NE side – Rose crowned.

SE side – Thistle crowned.

NW side – Fleur de lis crowned.

SW side – Portcullis crowned.

The last six mentioned were in oral moulded compartments. On the west side was a door with steps leading to the platform. The remaining seven sides had alcoves and stone benches. The cross, once dismantled, was sold in 1765 for £5/2s/6d.