Gretna Green

Gretna Green

infobox UK place
country = Scotland
official_name= Gretna Green
os_grid_reference= NY318680
unitary_scotland= Dumfries and Galloway
lieutenancy_scotland= Dumfries
post_town= GRETNA
postcode_district= DG16
postcode_area= DG
dial_code= 01461
constituency_westminster= Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
constituency_scottish_parliament= Dumfries

Gretna Green is a small but thriving town on the west coast in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings.1:50,000 OS map 85] It is in Dumfries and Galloway, near the mouth of the River Esk and was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh. Gretna Green has a railway station serving both Gretna Green and Gretna. The Quintinshill rail crash, with 227 deaths the worst rail crash in Britain, occurred near Gretna Green in 1915.

Gretna Green is distinct from the larger nearby town of Gretna. Both are alongside the A74(M) motorway and both are very near to the border of Scotland with England.


Its main claim to fame are the Blacksmith's Shops, where many runaway marriages were performed. These began in 1753 when an Act of Parliament, "Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act", was passed in England, which stated that if both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then consent to the marriage had to be given by the parents. This Act did not apply in Scotland where it was possible for boys to get married at 14 and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent. Since 1929 both parties have had to be at least 16 years old but there is still no consent needed. In England and Wales the ages are now 16 with consent and 18 without. In addition, English law required the "asking of the banns" (periodic announcements of an impending marriage, with an invitation for anybody who knew of a reason the parties could not marry to state the reason) or, later, the advance issuance of a license for a marriage to be legal; this allowed people who opposed a marriage—even one that could be performed legally—to know that it was planned, and thus possibly to prevent it.

Before these changes occurred, many elopers fled England, and the first Scottish village they encountered was — Gretna Green. The Old blacksmith's shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmiths Shop 1710 became, in popular folklore at least, the focal point for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmiths opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887.

The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for 'irregular marriages', meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as 'anvil priests'.

Gretna's two Blacksmiths shops and countless Inns and smallholding became the backdrops for hundreds of thousands of weddings. Gretna Green remains one of the world's most popular wedding venues, and thousands of couples come from around the world to be married 'over the anvil' at Gretna Green.

In common law, "Gretna Green marriage" came to mean, in general, a marriage transacted in a jurisdiction that was not the residence of the parties being married, to avoid restrictions or procedures imposed by the parties' home jurisdiction. [See "Black's Law Dictionary".] Other towns in which quick, often surruptitous marriages could be obtained came to be known as "Gretna Greens". ["E.g.", "State v. Clay", 182 Md. 639, 642, 35 A.2d 821, 822-23 (1944).] These have included Elkton, Maryland, ["Greenwald v. State", 221 Md. 235, 238, 155 A.2d 894, 896 (1959).] Reno and, later, Las Vegas, Nevada. A notable "Gretna" marriage was the second marriage in 1826 of Edward Gibbon Wakefield to the young heiress Ellen Turner, the Shrigley Abduction.

In 1856 Scottish law was changed to require 21 days residence for marriage, and a further law change was made in 1940. Other Scottish Border villages previously used for these marriages were Coldstream Bridge, Lamberton, Mordington and Paxton Toll.

Today, possibly as many as one of every six Scottish weddings take place at Gretna Green or in the town of Gretna.Fact|date=June 2007

There is an anvil in Gretna, Manitoba to symbolize the blacksmith, and the source of its name.

ee also

* Ower Bogie


* Ordnance Survey Landranger Map (number 85) - 1:50,000 scale (1.25 inches to 1 mile). ISBN 0-319-22685-9.

External links

* [ Old Blacksmiths shop visitors center]
* [ Information on Gretna Weddings]
* [ Undiscovered Scotland Gretna Green Page]
* [ Gretna Registry Office]
* [] Gretna Green wedding cam

* [ FallingRain Map - elevation = 1m (Red dots are railways)]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gretna Green — Koordinaten 55° 0′ N, 3° 4′ W …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gretna Green —   [ gretnə griːn], Dorf in Südschottland, nördlich von Carlisle, an der Grenze zu England, nahe dem Solway Firth, 2 700 Einwohner.   Geschichte:   Gretna Green wurde ab 1754 bekannt durch die rechtsgültigen Trauungen von Minderjährigen (auch… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Gretna-Green — (Gretnä Grihn) od. Graithneygreen, Pfarrdorf in der schott. Grafschaft Dumfries, berüchtigt durch die dort stattfindenden Trauungen ohne Einwilligung der Eltern u. Vormünder. Die Ehe gilt nämlich nach dem schott. calvin. Glauben nicht als… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Gretna-Green — (spr. grettna grīn, Graitnay), Dorf in der schott. Grafschaft Dumfries, 15 km nordwestlich von Carlisle, dicht an der englischen Grenze, mit (1891) 1141 Einw., war einstmals berühmt als Zufluchtsort solcher, die ohne Zustimmung ihrer Eltern oder… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Gretna Green — (spr. grettnĕ grihn), Dorf in der schott. Grafsch. Dumfries, früher Zufluchtsort derer, die nach dem in Schottland gültigen kanonischen Recht sich ohne Einwilligung der Eltern ehelich verbinden wollten, was vor dem dortigen Friedensrichter… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Gretna Green — town in Scotland just across the border, proverbial from late 18c. as the customery place for English couples to run off and be married without parental consent …   Etymology dictionary

  • Gretna Green — [gret′nə] border village in Scotland, where, formerly, many eloping English couples went to be married: used figuratively of any similar village or town …   English World dictionary

  • Gretna Green — La vieille échoppe du forgeron à Gretna Green. Épisodes d un mariage à Gretna Green, trois …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gretna Green — a village in S Scotland, near the English border, to which many English couples formerly eloped to be married. * * * ▪ Scotland, United Kingdom       village in Dumfries and Galloway council area, historic county of Dumfriesshire, Scotland. It… …   Universalium

  • Gretna Green — Gret|na Green a village in southern Scotland on the border with England. Until 1940, the marriage laws were less strict in Scotland than in England, and so many young English couples, whose parents did not want them to marry, ran away to get… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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