Preston Market Cross – Prestonpans, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Preston Market Cross

Reportedly the "most handsome" market cross in Scotland. 

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Prestonpans, or Preston, is a small coastal region that lies some 10 miles east of Edinburgh. It currently boasts a vast number of murals painted by members of the local community and guest artists. It also happens to be the site of a historic battle. Here, Charles Edward Stuart fought and won the first battle of the ill-fated 1745 Jacobite uprising. Dotted around this quaint village are several reminders of this troublesome era. One such example is the Preston Tower.

Dating from the early part of the 17th-century, the township of Preston was granted permission to hold a weekly market and annual fair. As a part of this prestigious distinction, the township was honored with a market cross. This is one of two specifically designed market crosses surviving in Scotland. It’s also the only such structure still in its original location. 

The Preston Cross is constructed of yellow sandstone, octangular in shape, and consists of two doors. At the ground level of the cross resides a circular room that functioned as the town’s jail. Here, convicted criminals would be held for a variety of infractions ranging from public intoxication—to committing slander and not attending church services. 

Above this lockup, connected by a narrow stairway, is a raised platform. From here, proclamations were read out to the gathered townspeople. These would’ve included royal announcements, as well as public decrees. In the center of this podium is a column topped with the symbol of Scotland, a unicorn holding a shield with a red lion.

Know Before You Go

Visible and accessible at all hours of the day. Though there is no entry, the nearby Preston Tower is well worth a visit.