Tuesday, August 23, 2016


When I was about 13-14 at school we talked about Gretna Green. I don't know who introduced this subject but you could read about it everywhere in the newspapers. At that age we were very romantic and in this town you could get married without the permission of your parents from age 16 on !

We hadn't heard very much from Las Vegas but Gretna Green was in ! How romantic to run away with your beloved to Scotland and get married ! (and the fathers running breathless behind) So my imagination. Of course when I read that on my tour to Edinburgh Tattoo we would stop there, I was more interested in Gretna Green then in the Tattoo !

And this is the history of Gretna Green :

According to English laws, couples had to reach the age of 21 before they could marry without their parents' consent and their marriage had to take place in a church.

Scottish law however was different: you could marry on the spot, in a simple 'marriage by declaration', or 'handfasting' ceremony, only requiring two witnesses and assurances from the couple that they were both over the age of 16 and free to marry.

With such a relaxed arrangement within reach of England it soon led to the inevitable influx of countless thousands of young couples running-away to marry over the border. Gretna Green was the first village in Scotland and conveniently situated on the main route from London into Scotland.

So not only English couples hurried to Scotland but also European once.

The run-away weddings began in the Blacksmiths Shop which was the first building couples reached in Gretna Green. It very quickly became synonymous as a hot bed of scandal and intrigue with many daughters from respectable families choosing to flee here to "marry a scoundrel". The 'Anvil Priests' would perform the ceremony for "a wee dram or a few guineas" depending on your status and financial standing. The hammering of the anvil soon became a notorious sound; romantically it is said that like the metals he forged, the Blacksmith would join couples together in the heat of the moment but bind them for eternity.

Over the years, the Famous Blacksmiths Shop became Gretna Green's best-known marriage venue, with the Blacksmith, and his legendary anvil, becoming synonymous with Gretna Green weddings.

Even today it is a very attractive place to marry ! Everything is organized, you pay a "package". In my bus there were two couples who had recently celebrated their daughter's wedding here in Gretna Green.

Some photos of the village :

Here the weddings took and take place

The old forge

Horse shoe decoration

Entrance to the museum. Unfortunately I had no time to visit.


Maribeth said...

My step-daughter and her husband got married there! They were far passed 16, but liked the fact that they could go and do it quickly. No muss, no fuss. She decided to be a little wicked and wore a bright red gown! She looked beautiful and happy!

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Passed that place a lot of times on my way north, think you showed the best part of the town. Got to admit I wish I'd gone there with my wife & got married.


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I love writing, traveling and photography. . I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.


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