Famous Blacksmiths Shop
Nestled just north of the English border in Scotland, the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop is known for hosting the marriages of couples who had fled England’s restrictive marriage laws during the 1700s and 1800s. The quaint shop remains a wedding venue and draws visitors with its marriage rooms, museum, shop, and restaurant.
In 1754, an English law prevented couples under 21 marrying without parental consent. Consequently, many couples eloped to Scotland for its more liberal laws, arriving first in Gretna, just over the border. The local blacksmith began conducting weddings as an “anvil priest”—striking his anvil during the vows—sparking a tradition that still holds more than 250 years later. Self-guided tours take visitors to the marriage rooms, the museum charting Gretna’s story as a “runaway” wedding venue, and the gift shop, restaurant, courtship maze, and sculpture garden.
Travelers can visit the shop independently or as part of wider UK explorations. Many multi-day Scotland tours feature the Famous Blacksmiths Shop, alongside the country’s key cities and scenic spots. Some multi-day tours of both England and Scotland also include a visit, adding Gretna to their overviews of both country’s historical highlights.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Famous Blacksmiths Shop will appeal to history buffs and sightseers.
Allow about 60 minutes to explore the site in full.
The marriage rooms, museum, shops, and gardens are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible.
Restrooms, picnic tables, a playground, free parking, and Wi-Fi are on-site.
Visitors cannot enter any marriage rooms being used for weddings that day.
How to Get There
The Famous Blacksmiths Shop lies 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) north of the border, just off Junction 45 on the M74 motorway into Scotland from Carlisle. While most visitors arrive by car, trains run from Carlisle to Gretna Green station, just minutes from the shop. Regular trains also link Carlisle to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester.
When to Get There
The Famous Blacksmiths Shop is open daily, excluding Christmas Day. Opening hours vary throughout the year, but are generally morning to late afternoon. The shop is popular, so an early morning visit is the best chance to miss the main crowds.
Must-Sees at the Famous Blacksmiths Shop Museum
The Famous Blacksmiths Shop exhibitions offer poignant insight into the runaways who married here. See the blacksmiths’ anvil, view the love letters of soon-to-elope couples and their parents’ pleading telegraphs, admire antique wedding dresses, and more. Alongside the old-world building, the exhibits evoke a bygone era of romance and high drama.