A market cross, or in Scots, a mercat cross, is a structure used to mark a market square in market towns, where historically the right to hold a regular market or fair was granted by the monarch, a bishop or a baron.
Market crosses were originally from the distinctive tradition in Early Medieval Insular art of free-standing stone standing or high crosses, often elaborately carved, which goes back to the 7th century. Market crosses can be found in many market towns in Britain. British emigrants often installed such crosses in their new cities, and several can be found in Canada and Australia.
The market cross could be representing the official site for a medieval town or village market, granted by a charter, or it could have once represented a traditional religious marking at a crossroads.
These structures range from carved stone spires, obelisks or crosses, common to small market towns such as that in Stalbridge, Dorset, to large, ornate covered structures, such as the Chichester Cross, or Malmesbury Market Cross. They can also be constructed from wood; an example is at Wymondham, Norfolk.