Saturday 25 February 2012: The Cross
It has been a while since I published any local, historical picture here, so to mark my first year, here is The MercatCross.
The Castlegate is a small area of Aberdeen, Scotland, located centrally at the east-end of the city's main thoroughfare Union Street. Generally speaking, locals would consider it to encompas the square at the end of Union Street where the Mercat Cross and the Gallowgate are located.
At the upper end of Castlegate stands The Salvation Army Citadel, an effective castellated mansion, on the site of the medieval Aberdeen Castle. Castlegate was the site of the castle gates until its destruction in 1308, hence the name of the area.
Aberdeen's Mercat Cross was built in 1686 by John Montgomery, a native architect. This open-arched structure, 21 ft (6 m) in diameter and 18 ft (5 m) high, comprises a large hexagonal base from the centre of which rises a shaft with a Corinthian capital, on which is the royal unicorn. The base is highly decorated, including medallions illustrating Scottish monarchs from James I to James VII.
The Mercat Cross was traditionally the site of miscellaneous publithe base was altered in 1821 to provide one large booth, in place of the previous smaller ones. This work was completed by a John Small at the cost of £350. Lord Cockburn wrote in 1841 that he thought this was the 'finest thing of its kind in Scotland'.
In 1995-6 the column was replaced and the 17th century original is currently held in the Tolbooth museum.
Established from the 12th century, market crosses were traditionally the symbol of a burgh's right to trade and were placed at the centre of a town's market place. They were also the place where important announcements were made and where public punishments were applied,, together with Royal proclamations.