- Gretna Green
infobox UK place
country = Scotland
official_name= Gretna Green
Dumfries and Galloway
constituency_westminster= Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
Gretna Green is a small but thriving town on the west coast in the south of
Scotlandfamous 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) motorwayand 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 Scotlandwhere 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 Walesthe 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 attractionas early as 1887.
blacksmithand his anvilhave 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
smallholdingbecame 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.
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).] Renoand, later, Las Vegas, Nevada. A notable "Gretna" marriage was the second marriage in 1826 of Edward Gibbon Wakefieldto 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, Mordingtonand 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, Manitobato symbolize the blacksmith, and the source of its name.
* Ordnance Survey Landranger Map (number 85) - 1:50,000 scale (1.25 inches to 1 mile). ISBN 0-319-22685-9.
* [http://www.gretnagreen.co.uk Old Blacksmiths shop visitors center]
* [http://www.gretnaweddings.co.uk Information on Gretna Weddings]
* [http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/gretna/gretna/index.html Undiscovered Scotland Gretna Green Page]
* [http://www.gretnaonline.net Gretna Registry Office]
* [http://www.webviews.co.uk/network/camera/scotland/dumfries/gretna-greeen-wedding-webcam.html] Gretna Green wedding cam
* [http://www.fallingrain.com/world/UK/0/Gretna_Green.html FallingRain Map - elevation = 1m (Red dots are railways)]
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