Wednesday, 2 July 2008


Coming down South last month, GB and I went off the A74 to visit the Gretna Outlet Village. Gretna stands on the Scottish/English border, and as a result became popular for runaway marriages of English couples - Lord Hardwicke’s act of 1754 abolished irregular marriages in England, but not in Scotland. Once across the bridge, runaways could marry very quickly in accordance with 18th-century Scots law, which required neither banns nor licence.

Marriages took place at various buildings including the first house in Scotland – the old Toll Bar at Sarkbridge, a mile East of Gretna and literally a stone’s throw from England. After 1856, a residence north of the border of not less than three weeks was required before a marriage could take place.

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