Gretna Green is a village in the south of Scotland famous for runaway weddings. It is in Dumfries and Galloway, near the mouth of the River Esk and was historically the first village in Scotland, following the old coaching route from London to Edinburgh. Gretna's famous runaway marriages began in 1753 when an Act of Parliament, Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act, was passed in England, which stated that if both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then consent to the marriage had to be given by the parents. This Act did not apply in Scotland, where it was possible for boys to get married at 14 and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent. Since 1929 both parties have had to be at least 16 years old but there is still no consent needed. In England and Wales the ages are now 16 with consent and 18 without. Before these changes occurred, many elopers fled England, and the first Scottish village they encountered was Gretna Green. The Old Blacksmith's shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith's Shop (1710) became, in popular folklore at least, the focal point for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmith's opened to the public as a visitor attraction as early as 1887. The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for 'irregular marriages', meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. Anvil Priests.