23 Aug 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.

more participants here


Fun60 said...

Everyone knows about Gretna Green. I have driven past but never visited. Great photos of a very famous place.

Linens and Royals said...

In my dreamy and romantic youth I had visions of running away to Gretna Green. Who with? and where would the money come from for such a long trip I never knew and I still have not visited Gretna Green.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gattina - I've never been ... but have always been bemused by the place - good to see your photos ... cheers Hilary

Mara said...

I have visited, but mainly saw the big restaurant/shop unfortunately, since both times I was there it was absolutely chucking it down! One second outside and you would be drenched to the bone.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I would love to visit the town and see all the buildings and flowers. Love the horse shoe decorating the entrance.

mamasmercantile said...

I have been many times as I travel up to Scotland, a very beautiful and interesting place to visit.

Loree said...

Yes, Gretna Green was the place where we all wanted to run too when we were teenagers.

Wandering Wren said...

Well look at you off exploring the World again :) I love your commentary on Gretna Green, like you, we stopped but didn't visit the museum!
Have a wonderful Wandering Wednesday!
Wren x

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I remember reading or hearing about couples running away to Gretna Green, even in the western backwoods town where I grew up. And thinking it was romantic of course! I'd definitely go out of my way to see it.

Reader Wil said...

What a great post, Gattina!I saw Gretna Green in 2005.My photos are a bit different. Yours are very beautiful!

Kay L. Davies said...

Much prettier than Las Vegas, believe me. Las Vegas lost its charm years ago. However, I'd still like to visit Gretna Green...I also remember hearing about it from childhood.
And the Edinburgh Tattoo! That one, I actually HAVE seen, and would go again although my husband is not at all interested in hours and hours of bagpipes. Much of my heritage is Scottish, and I loved the hours and hours of bagpipes.
I'm glad you are well and still traveling and blogging. Hugs from here,
Kay (and a hug from Himself as well)

Gracie said...

Didn't know about that! How interesting...thanks for sharing the story.