Gretna Green

Gretna Green is a pairish in the historical coonty o Dumfriesshire, in Dumfries an Gallowa, Scotland. It is near the mairch wi England, define't bi the smaw River Sark that flowes intil the mooth o the wastren ewest Solway Firth. It wis historical the first veelage in Scotland follaein the auld coachin route fae Lunnon til Edinburgh. Gretna Green railwey station servis baith Gretna Green an Gretna. The Quintinshill rail disaster, the warst rail skroil in Breetish history (226 recordit deiths), occurred near Gretna Green in 1915.

Gretna Green
Around Gretna Green, Scotland - panoramio (3).jpg
The Mairiage Room
Gretna Green is located in Dumfries and Galloway
Gretna Green
Gretna Green
Location within Dumfries an Gallowa
OS grid referenceNY318680
Cooncil area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnitit Kinrick
Post tounGRETNA
Postcode destrictDG16
Diallin code01461
EU PairlamentScotland
UK Pairlament
Scots Pairlament
Leet o places
55°00′07″N 3°03′58″W / 55.002°N 3.066°W / 55.002; -3.066Coordinates: 55°00′07″N 3°03′58″W / 55.002°N 3.066°W / 55.002; -3.066

Gretna Green sits alangside the main toun o Gretna.[1] Baith places is aiccessed fae the A74(M) motorwey.[1]

Gretna Green is maist famous for waddins, follaein the 1754 Mairiage Act that forfendit couples unner the age o 21 mairyin in England or Wales withoot thair paurent's consent. As it wis legal yet in Scotland tae mairy, couples begoud crossin the mairch intae Scotland and thair first stap wis the Famous Blacksmith's Shap in Gretna Green.


The Famous Blacksmiths Shap at Gretna Green

Gretna Green is ane o the warld's maist faur ben waddin destinations, acause o its romantic waddin tradeetions datin back ower centurys, that oreeginatit fae cross-mairch skirtins acause o the differences atween the Scottish mairiage laws an the English mairiage laws.

Historic view o Gretna Green

Gretna's "skirtin mairiages" begoud in 1754 whan Laird Hardwicke's 1754 Mairiage Act cam intae force in England. Unner the Act, if a paurent o a person unner the age o 21 objectit til the minor's mairiage, the paurent coud legal na-say the union. The Act tichtent the the requirements for mairyin in England an Wales bit it didna applee in Scotland, whaur it wis possible for boys tae mairy at 14 an girls at 12, wi or withoot paurental consent. It wis, houiver, anely in the 1770s, wi the biggin o a towl road passin throu the umwhile obscure veelage o Graitney, that Gretna Green becam the first easily reakable veelage ower the Scots mairch.[2]

Scots law alloued for "iraiglar mairiages", meanin that if a declaration wis made afore twa witnesses, awmaist onybody hid the authority tae conduct the waddin ceremony. The blacksmiths in Greta becam kent as "anvil priests" (stiddie priests), culminatin wi Richard Rennison (1889-1969) that performt 5,147 ceremonys. The local blacksmith an his stiddie becam lastin seembols o Gretna Green waddins. Twa in parteecular, The Famous Blacksmith's Shap, built in 1713, an Gretna Hall Historic Marriage House and Hotel (built 1710) becam, in faur ben fowklair at least, the focal tourist pynts for the mairiage tred. The Famous Blacksmiths Shap appent til the public as a veesitor attraction in 1885, unner the awnerskip o Hugh Mackie. Gretna Green Ltd., noo awnt bi the fowert-generation of the Mackie faimily, Alasdair Houston MBE, wi the uphaud o his sister, Susan Clark, is noo a VisitScotland five-star, awaird-winnin veesitor attraction, an remeens ane o the UK's mais faur ben waddin venues.

Victorian chronicler Robert Smith Surtees descrived Gretna Green at lenth in his 1848 The New Monthly Magazine serial The Richest Commoner in England:

Few of our readers —none we should think of our fair ones— but at some period or other of their lives, have figured to themselves the features of Gretna Green. Few we should think but have pictured to themselves the chaise stained "with the variations of each soil", the galloping bustle of the hurrying postboys, urging their foaming steeds for the last stage that bears them from Carlisle to the border. It is a place whose very name is typical of brightening prospects. The poet sings of the greenest spot on memory's waste, and surely Gretna Green was the particular spot he had under consideration. Gretna Green! The mind pictures a pretty straggling, half Scotch, half English village, with clean white rails, upon a spacious green, and happy rustics in muffin caps, and high cheek bones, looking out for happier couples to congratulate. Then the legend of the blacksmith who forged the links of love, added interest to the place, and invested the whole with fairy feature.
How much better, brighter, more promising, in short, a Gretna Green marriage sounds than a Coldstream or Lamberton toll-bar one! and yet they are equally efficacious. Gretna Green indeed, is as superior in reality as it is in name. It looks as if it were the capital of the God of Love, while the others exhibit the bustling, trading, money-making pursuits of matter-of-fact life. Though we dare say Gretna Green is as unlike what most people fancy, still we question that any have gone away disappointed. It is a pretty south country-looking village, much such as used to exist in the old days of posting and coaching. A hall house converted into an hotel, and the dependents located in the neighbouring cottages. Gretna Hall stands a little apart from the village on the rise of what an Englishman would call a gentle eminence, and a Scotchman a dead flat, and is approached by an avenue of stately trees, while others are plentifully dotted about, one on the east side, bearing a board with the name of the house, the host and high-priest, "Mr. Linton". There is an air of quiet retirement about it that eminently qualifies it for its holy and hospitable purpose.

Syne 1929, baith pairtys in Scotland hae hid tae be at least 16 year auld, bit thay can yet mairy withoot paurental consent. In England an Wales, the age for mairiage is noo 16 wi paurental consent an 18 withoot it. O the three forms o iraiglar mairiage that hid existit unner Scots law, aw bit the last wis abolisht bi the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1939 that cam intae force fae 1 Julie 1940. Afore this Act, ony ceetizen wis able tae witness a public plicht.

Gretna Green's twa blacksmiths shaps, coontless inns, an tafts became the backgrunds for tens o thoosands o waddins. Nouadays the're several weddin venue in an aroond Gretna Green, fae umwhile kirks tae purpose-built chaipels. The services at aw the venues is aye performt ower an iconic blacksmith's stiddie. Gretna Green endures as ane o the warld's mait faur ben waddin venues and thoosands o couples fae aroond the warld come tae be mairit "ower the stiddie" in Gretna Green.


In common law, a "Gretna Green mairiage" cam tae mean, in general, a mairage transactit in a jurisdiction that wisna the residence o the pairtys bein mairit, tae avyde restrictions or throu-comes imposed bi the pairty's hame jurisdiction.[3] A kenspeckle "Gretna" mairiage was the seicont mairiage in 1826 o Edward Gibbon Wakefield til the young heiress Ellen Turner, cried the Shrigley abduction (his first mairage wis til an heiress an aw, but the paurents wantit tae avyde a public scandal). Ither touns that quick, surrepteetious mairiages coud be obteent cam tae be kent as "Gretna Greens".[4] In the Unitit States, thir hae includit Elkton, Maryland,[5] Reno, Nevada, an Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 1856 Scots law wis chainged tae require 21 day residence for mairiage, an a forder law chainge wis made in 1940. The residential requirement wis liftit in 1977.[6] Ither Scots mairch veelages uised for sic mairiages wis Caustrim Brig, Lamberton, Mordington, an Paxton Toll.[7]

In faur ben culturEedit

  • A stiddie wis instawed in Gretna, Manitoba in Canadae tae seembolise the blacksmith an the touns namesake in Scotland.
  • In Pride an Prejudice bi Jane Austen, whan Lydia Bennet skirts wi George Wickham she leaves ahint a note statin that thair ettle't destination is Gretna Green, tho later thay is fund cohabitin in Lunnon, haein no in fact traivelt tae Scotland.[8]
  • In Jane Austen's ''Love and Freindship'', the main chairacters goued ower a uncrafty girl tae skirt wi an acquaintace tae Gretna Green.
  • In Saison 3, Episode 5 o the BBC series You Rang, M'Lord?, twa o the chairacters skirt tae Gretna Greeen. This syne hertens twa ither chairacters tae skirt in a seemilar mainer. Houiver, thir anes is stappit afore thay reak Scotland.[9]
  • In The Richest Commoner in England bi Robert Smith Surtees, Tom Rocket propones a "Gretna Green match" tae Maria "Moley" Dooey, tae "escpae the persecution of the lawyers, and the parsons, and the toast-givers, and the devil knows what." Surtees tells his readers that "Moley was dumb-founded at the proposition, or perhaps she thought it pretty to be so, for it was not the first, nor the second, nor the third time, that she had had a similar offer. Habit familiarises ladies' ears to the sound just as Lord Byron said men's ears became used to the cock of the pistol."
  • In Nemesis bi Agatha Christie, Miss Marple references Gretna Green in passin, notin: "There was no need for them to fly off to Gretna Green, they were of sufficiently mature age to marry."
  • In the novelle A Poisoned Season' bi Tasha Aleander, the main chairacter Leddy Emily Ashton communes wi her wooster whether he luves her eneuch tae conseeder skirtin tae Gretna Green. At the end o the novelle, seicontary chairacters Laird Pembroke an Isabelle Eltion skirt tae there.
  • In the BBC drama Waterloo Road Francesca Montoya (a teacher) an Jonah Kirby (a scholart) skirt tae Gretna Green.
  • Durin a 1991 episode o the BBC saip-operae EastEnders, the chairacters Sam Mitchell an Ricky Butcher skirt tae Gretna Green acause thay is baith teenagers.
  • Twa couples skirt tae Gretna Green in Lisa Kleypas's Wallflower beuk series.
  • In Lynsay Sands romance novelle The Heiress the main chairacters' goal is tae mairy at Gretna Green.
  • In the seicont series o Downton Abbey, Leddy Sybil Crawley an the chauffeur Tom Branson set aff for Gretna Green wi plans tae skirt, afore bein catcht bi her sisters. In the saxt series, the toun wis mentiont again whan Mary Crawley jokit aboot gaun tae Gretna Green upon becomin engaged tae Henry Talbot.
  • In the saip-operae Coronation Street the chairacters Sophie Webster an Sian Powers awmaist rin aff tae Gretna Green tae skirt. In 1998 the chairacter Nick Tilsley mairit the chairacter Leanne Battersb at Gretna Green.
  • In saison 3, episode 7 o the BBC series May to December, the chairacter Zoe surpreesed the chairacter Alec wi a trip tae Hretna Green sae as tae mairy.
  • In the beuk 'The Meaning of Liff bi Douglas Adams, Gretna Green is define't as "A shade of green which makes you wish youd painted whatever it was a different colour."
  • Gretna Green, a 1915 seelent pictur aboot luvers heidit tae Gretna Green, starnt Marguerite Clark an wis sted on a novelle bi Grace Livingston Furniss.
  • In Episode 3 o the Amazon series [[Doctor Thorne the chairacter Frank maks a joke aboot him an Mary rinnin aff tae mairy in Gretna Green.[10]
  • In the TV comedy Mind Your Language, the Lunnoner Miss Courtney mentions that as a young girl she an her than boyfreend tried tae skirt tae Gretna Green, bit anely got as faur as Golders Green.
  • In saison 2, Episode 7 o The Crown, Gretna Green is mentiont efter Antony Armstrong-Jones seeks Princess Margaret.
  • In saison 5, episode 6 o Poldark, the chairacters Geoffrey Charles an Cecily Hanson try tae flee tae Gretna Green.[11][12]
  • In the 1967 muisical Half a Sixpence, the sang "Flash Bang Wallop" mentions Gretna Green in thir lyrics:
All lined up in a wedding group
'Ere we are for a photograph
We're all dressed up in a morning suit
All trying hard not to laugh
Since the early caveman in his fur
Took a trip to Gretna Green
There's always been a photographer
To record the 'appy scene ...


  1. a b 1:50,000 OS map 85
  2. Probert, R. (2009) Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Reassessment (Cambridge: CUP) ch. 7
  3. Black, Law Dictionary.
  4. E.g., State v. Clay, 182 Md. 639, 642, 35 A.2d 821, 822–23 (1944).
  5. Greenwald v. State, 221 Md. 235, 238, 155 A.2d 894, 896 (1959).
  6. "Valentine's Day influx at Gretna". News. UK: The BBC. 14 Februar 2006. Retrieved 4 Februar 2010.
  7. "Runaway Marriages at the toll house, Coldstream Bridge", Original indexes, UK: Demon, archived frae the original on 15 October 2006.
  8. Austen, Jane. "Pride and Prejudice". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 2 Februar 2011.
  9. "Gretna Green or Bust".
  10. "Doctor Thorne (2016) s01e03 Episode Script".[deid airtin]
  11. "Poldark episode 6 review: the series slowly sinks in the west - but do viewers really care?".
  12. "Poldark series five, episode six recap – there's jeopardy everywhere!".

Forder readinEedit

  • Survey Landranger Map, UK: Ordnance, ISBN 0-319-22685-9 — 1:50,000 scale (1.25 inches to 1 mile).