Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

HIGH STREET, MERCAT CROSSLB27792

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
A
Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
14/12/1970
Local Authority
Edinburgh
Planning Authority
Edinburgh
Burgh
Edinburgh
NGR
NT 25771 73597
Coordinates
325771, 673597

Description

Sydney Mitchell, 1885 (replica of former 15th and 17th century structures - see Notes). Distinctive Market Cross with large octagonal drum platform and narrow shaft. Ionic columns to corners. Keyblocked round arch at each face. Deep parapet with ornately corbelled angle-rounds. Octagonal shaft and moulded capital surmounted by unicorn finial. Painted heraldic panels to parapet faces. Carved inscription above timber door with internal stair leading to platform.

Statement of Special Interest

A Group with Nos 2-11 Parliament Square, Advocates' Library, Signet Library, Parliament Hall, 1 Parliament Square, St Giles High Kirk, Charles II Statue, City Chambers, Alexander and Bucephalus Statue, Queensberry Memorial and Lothian Chambers.

Edinburgh's Mercat Cross is a fine late 19th century reconstruction and re-imagining of its predecessors. It occupies a particularly prominent and sensitive location on the High Street in front of the W side of Parliament Square, beside St Giles Kirk. Representing the centre of social and civic life in the City throughout the centuries, the current Mercat Cross is of considerable contextual and historic interest and offers significant group value with the buildings that surround it.

The shaft and capital head are 1970 replacements of the original 15th century fabric, removed at that time to protect them from further deterioration. Both had been used in a previous rebuilding of the Cross in 1617 by John Tailefer and John Mylne. In 1866 the shaft and capital were erected on a simple stepped base near the present site. The unicorn was added in 1869. The self-consciously artisanal octagonal drum designed by Sidney Mitchell in 1885 was intended to be a replica of Tailefer and Mylnes reconstruction, taken from one surviving 18th century engraving. The renowned Edinburgh-based architect Sydney Mitchell was one of the country's finest 19th century architects, whose reputation has increased in recent years. The completed work, incorporating the 15th century shaft and capital, was gifted to the town by British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone who also composed the Latin inscription above the main door of the octagonal drum. The painted panels includes the Arms of Edinburgh, copied from a panel of the 1617 cross. Other panels from the earlier cross, depicting human heads, also survive. These are currently built into a wall at Abbotsford House in the Scottish Borders. The cross was repaired by the City Architect's Department in 1970.

List description updated at resurvey (2007/08).

References

Bibliography

Ordnance Survey, First Edition - 1852. Journal - 'The Builder' November 21 (1885). Plans in 'British Architect' Journal, December 4 (1885). John Gifford et al, Buildings of Scotland - Edinburgh, (1991) p183. Charles McKean, Edinburgh - An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1992). Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk (accessed 10.05.2007)

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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Printed: 18/10/2019 22:33