Gretna Green – Scotland

DAY 5 – After Loch Lomond we continued south through Glasgow into the Southern Uplands of Scotland.  On the way to the Scottish/English border, we stopped by a small village called Gretna Green.  I had never heard of Gretna Green previously, however the village’s claim to fame are the blacksmiths’ Gretna Greenshops where many runaway marriages were performed.

In 1753, an Act of Parliament was passed, making the legal age of marriage in England 21 years old.  If both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then they had to get consent to the marriage from their parents.  As this law did not apply to Scotland, it led to many young couples eloping from England and making for the first Scottish village they came to — Gretna Green.

St Andrews Cross - the flag of ScotlandGretna’s two blacksmiths shops became the focal point for the marriage trade and nearby inns and smallholding became the backdrops for hundreds of thousands of weddings. Today, Gretna Green remains one of the most popular wedding venues in the world, and thousands of couples still come from all over the world to be married ‘over the anvil’ at Gretna Green.

In law, Gretna Green marriage came to mean a marriage transacted in a jurisdiction that was not the residence of the parties being married, in order to avoid restrictions or procedures imposed by the parties’ home jurisdiction.


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