Heart of Trade

Dunfermline's Mercat cross topped with unicorn and sceptre in afternoon shade against a blue sky background.

You are standing on the central street of the town, today called High Street. Previously called Causgait – Caus from ‘causey’ – which meant cobble stone. You can see plenty of cobbles if you look north up the Wynd behind the Cross. The Mercat (or market) Cross with the unicorn sitting on top indicates the status of Dunfermline as a royal ‘burgh’ (pronounced ‘burru’). 

The status of burgh was an award from the monarch, permitting trade to be done – great for growing the local economy and generating taxes for the Crown! Fife was a county with many burghs after King David I introduced the idea and Dunfermline was awarded Royal Burgh status in 1153. 

Stone Mercat cross topped by unicorn and blue sky background.
Dunfermline’s Mercat Cross topped by unicorn and town crest.

Nearby, other towns with Royal Burgh status include Culross (1592), Inverkeithing (1214), St Andrews (1620) and Kirkcaldy (1644). These towns, and other cities in Scotland, were often built up around their Mercat cross – a legacy of their connection with the trading and prestige it brought. 

Since you’re here, why not take some time to explore Dunfermline’s modern-day traders around the High Street or Kingsgate Shopping Centre?