Learn the history behind Scotland's ancient castles and buildings
Dumfries & Galloway,
- Telephone: 01461 338441
- email: NA
- Website: Gretna Green Blacksmiths Shop
Prices and opening times
- £3.75 – adults
- £3.00 – concessions
- Children under 12 years enter free
Open Every Day (Only closed Christmas Day)
- 9.00 am – 5.30 pm: April and May
- 9.00 am – 6.00 pm: June to September
- 9.00 am – 5.00 pm: October to March
If you’re in any way romantically inclined you should definitely take a visit to the famous Gretna Green Blacksmiths on the Scottish border. The site has been drawing young lovers to its blacksmith’s workshop for nearly three hundred years and continues to do so to this very day.
Gretna Green’s rise to prominence as the number-one place in Britain to get married began in the mid 18th-century when English law lords tightened the rules regarding marriage arrangements. The new law meant that couples had to both reach the age of 21 before they could marry without their parent’s consent, and the marriage had to take place in a church. Scottish law, however, was different and allowed partners to marry with a simple marriage by declaration ceremony, or also common at the time, a handfasting ceremony (this is where the bride and groom’s hands were bound together with a cloth during the ceremony, hence the phrase ‘tying the knot’).
It wasn’t long before scores of young couples flocked to Scotland looking to wed each other at the first place that they could find, and it just so happened that Gretna Green was the first major settlement on the English/Scottish border that they would come across. As many of these young couples were angrily chased by the father-of-the-bride they fled to the first building they came across, which happened to be the local blacksmiths workshop, and it was here that generations of blacksmiths soon found themselves earning a significant side-income as impromptu priests, with the anvil serving as a handy platform to perform the ceremonies.
Today the Blacksmiths workshop has been converted into a museum which features several displays that explain the history of Britain’s favourite marriage venue, as well as the original anvil, wedding dresses from the past and an impressive display of horse-drawn carriages. Perhaps the best part about visiting the museum though is catching a glimpse of modern young couples tying the knot, an event which still occurs daily as can be seen in the book of marriages displayed in the anvil room.
The attraction has been expanded over the years so that it now includes several shops selling Scottish-produced products and food, and the whisky and gift shop are well worth a visit. There’s also a self-service restaurant with conservatory seating, with tables and chairs outside in the courtyard if you fancy a picnic. The courtyard features several sculptures that have been created by local artists and the huge entwined hands in the centre will act as a great backdrop for your photos.
Moving to the rear of the complex you will find another artwork that you can clip your love-locks (engraved padlocks) onto to show your devotion to your other half, while the courtship maze near the car park is a journey of discovery where couples enter at different ends and try to find each other in a series of twisting corridors shaped like a pair of interlocking wedding rings.