Scotland is a small country. In Canada our communities are usually 30 km (18 miles) or more apart. In Scotland the average is about 4 or 6 km (2+ miles). And several different intersections will have a signpost pointing to the same community at the same distance away. You cannot, however, just zip quickly down the road and arrive in a few minutes. The roads are winding and narrow and often have sheep wandering on them.
Gretna Green is famous as the 18th century English elopement town. (Gretna was not the only border town that offered wedding services. Almost any Scottish town near the border had its fair share of quick wedding services.) If you wanted to marry without your parents consent you beetled it up to the little community on the border between England and Scotland and got married, “over the anvil.” The place is a real ‘tourist trap’ but not completely hokie. We had fun there. They still do lots of weddings every year and have several different places on the grounds for the ceremony and several different photo op settings as well. They have a some nicely set up museum rooms of furnishings and artifacts from the early days of the shop. It really was an active blacksmith shop. Scottish law allowed anyone to perform a wedding ceremony as the important, and binding, part was the declaration of the couple rather than the rites of a minister. Most ‘anvil weddings’ were performed by weavers, horse saddlers, and fishermen. Often the only role of a blacksmith was to make the rings. Regardless who the officiant was, the blacksmith or anvil wedding was the ceremony of choice for any English couple who could not get official signed documents from their parents (as required by law), or who did not want to wait for the weeks needed to post the banns in church. In the marriage commissioner’s office you can legally get married ‘over an anvil.’
We were tickled to see this family tree that was sent to Gretna Green by someone from our area of BC. With all the digital photographs of trips, weddings, and gatherings I have taken since 2007 I have become quite good at some Photoshop techniques. I decided that I would try blend a photo of each of us into one so we could be ‘married’ the Gretna Green way.
I had John take a photo of me with my hand on the anvil, then I took one of him standing on the other side with his hand just above the anvil. Then I did some Photoshop magic and Voila! From Gretna Green we went to see the Ruthwell Cross, and an abbey, and a castle, and a tower, before finishing our day in Kirkcudbright. (Continued in Part 2)Warning: This blog series will have LOTS of photos of castles and ruins. Scotland is brimming with about a thousand of them and we saw one or more ancient building every single day. I loved every minute of if! The next most prominent item will be gardens. Lots and lots and lots of gardens.