The Mercat Cross was the traditional heart of the burgh.
At the cross new monarchs were proclaimed: a locked staircase led from ground level to the top where announcements were made. The symbolism in making the announcement from this spot was important to the Jacobites and on the 20th of September 1715, the Old Pretender was declared king at the Mercat Cross.
Designed and made from sandstone by John Montgomery in 1686 and built, excluding the cost of the materials, for a fee of £1200. The decorative hexagonal base features six arches with pillars at each corner, animal gargoyles and medallions. Ten of the twelve medallions illustrate Stewart monarchs; namely James I to James V, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, Charles I and II and James VII, with the remaining two showing the Royal arms and the burgh’s arms.
Positioned above the parapet on a Corinthian capital is the white marble unicorn with a gilded horn. The shaft and unicorn are replacements from the mid 1990s; the originals are on display in the Tolbooth.