Old Blacksmith's Shop Visitor Centre

(Old Smithy)

Old Blacksmith's Shop Visitor Centre, Gretna Green
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Old Blacksmith's Shop Visitor Centre, Gretna Green

A museum, visitor centre and 'marriage supermarket' located in the northeastern section of the Dumfries and Galloway village of Gretna Green, a quarter-mile (0.4 km) west of Springfield, the Old Blacksmith's Shop Visitor Centre was for many years a simple blacksmith's workshop. However, as the popularity of Gretna Green rose, with runaway couples from England taking advantage of Scotland's simple marriage laws, the blacksmith began to be asked to forge symbolic bond of matrimony. Thus the Gretna Green tradition of Anvil Priests began. Early tourists would try to catch a glimpse of the wedding ceremony through the windows of the shop, and so the enterprising blacksmith, Hugh Mackie, decided to open his workshop to the public in 1886, thus creating one of the earliest visitor attractions.

Today, more than 1000 couples still wed in the marriage room here annually, their unions forged over the original 19th-century anvil. The centre is still owned by the descendants of the original blacksmith and now comprises a museum and exhibition, highlighting the 200 year tradition of marriage in the area, an enormous retail outlet, a restaurant, craft centre and sculpture garden.

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