Gretna Green

Last Updated: 18th Feb 2011

Gretna Green is a small village in the south of Scotland, distinct from the larger nearby town of Gretna, Scotland. Both are on the same road near the border with England on the west coast, near the mouth of the River Esk.

Gretna Green, although small is famous for the Old Blacksmith’s Shop 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 of 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. This led to many eloper’s fleeing England and making for the first Scottish village they came to: Gretna Green.

In England and Wales the ages are now 16 with consent and 18 without, and in Scotland 16 years with no consent.