Very early ride this morning with a total of 117km that brought me into Scottish territory and although Hadrian’s Wall might have marked the border between Britannia and Caledonia, it lies a long way south of the current country border. Scotland’s only land border, the divide now spans the 96 miles from Marshall Meadows to Solway Firth. I stopped there to send a quick post card and below is the usual interesting facts about it :
The border has been a moveable feast for centuries, and the border lands were long in dispute, changing hands on many occasions. The Treaty, and subsequent Acts of Union in the early 18th century Great Britain – although Scotland retained some separate laws.
With those separate laws came some interesting differences. The age of legal capacity is two years lower in Scotland – 16 rather than 18 – leading to a tradition of young couples eloping to Gretna Green just over the border into Scotland, so that they could marry without their parents’ permission.
Prior to 1940, a quirk of Scottish law allowed for a wedding ceremony to be conducted by just about anybody – as long as there are witnesses present, all a couple had to do was agree to be married to each other. The Old Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna Green was a particularly popular place to stop, hence the phrase ‘anvil priest’ being in common use in the area. One such anvil priest was Richard Rennison, who by the time the law changed in 1940 had performed over 5000 ‘irregular marriages’.