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Gretna Green

Gretna Green is a village in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings. It is   near the mouth of the River Esk and was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh. Today Gretna Green is one of the world’s most popular wedding destinations, hosting over 5,000 weddings each year and one of every six Scottish weddings. Gretna’s famous “runaway marriages” began in 1754 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act came into force in England. Under the Act you had to be 21 to get married in England and Wales but did not apply in Scotland, where it was possible for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12 with or without parental consent. It was, however, only in the 1770s, with the construction of a toll road passing through the village, that Gretna Green became the first easily reachable village over the Scottish border. The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith’s Shop became, in popular folklore at least, the focal tourist points for the marriage trade. 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.

1_Gretna_Green_Blacksmith_s_shop

Gretna’s two blacksmiths’ shops and countless inns and smallholding became the backdrops for tens of thousands of weddings. Today there are several wedding venues in and around Gretna Green, from former churches to purpose-built chapels and thousands of couples from around the world come to be married ‘over the anvil’ in Gretna Green.

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Mark and Lesley guided us around some fascinating sites within the region, some of which we did not know were there - even as locals!  The day was informative, relaxed and a great way to see around the wonderful, beautiful part of the world that we live in.

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The history, scenery and culture of Southern Scotland needs to be told and Lesley and Mark offer a fantastic balance of story telling and insightful knowledge of the area.

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Last week was an incredibly busy week for Solway Tours but we loved every minute of it!

We helped guests to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors and visit places on their Scottish and English bucket list!

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About Us

The history, scenery and culture of Southern Scotland needs to be told and Lesley and Mark offer a fantastic balance of story telling and insightful knowledge of the area.

About Us

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Southern Scotland has a unique landscape and culture which is both evocative and beautiful – Scotland in a Snapshot captures the very, very best of this stunning corner of Scotland.

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