History of the Church
|Gretna Through the Ages
Graitney to Gretna Green
The name Gretna is of uncertain origin. Some suggested derivations are:
a) from the saxon 'groes' and like Gratton means graes-tun or grass town;
b) Gretan-how meaning 'great hollow'.
c) in 1376 Gretankowe suggested 'how' or "hollow of greeting” - greet in Scotland 'to weep';
d) Gretan-kowe suggested how or hill of grit or gravel and
e) from 'Gretenhow' an Angle term meaning gravel hill.
f) (place at the) gravelly hill, from the old English greot “grit” and hoh “hill-spur”. The name is equivalent to modern-day Gravelly Hill.
The Angles were not the first settlers in Gretna; both the Romans and Norsemen had preceded them. The area surrounding Gretna has seen many battles between the Scots and the English as they invaded each other.
In 1376 Gretna was completely destroyed during one such battle.
In 1542 at Solway Moss near Gretna Junction, the English routed 10,000 Scots from the battlefield. The Border has alternated throughout the centuries between the River Sark and the River Esk - the lands lying between the two rivers being very much the 'disputed lands' of Border Conflict.
The Union of the two countries under James VI of Scotland [and James I of England]', 400 years ago, brought to an end this rivalry, and resulted in a better understanding between the two peoples.
During the reign of Charles 1 (1625 - 1649) the border was redefined between Scotland and England, with the River Sark on the edge of Gretna being designated as the boundary line.