Getting Stoned and building a Cairn at Gretna


Hugh Paxton’s Blog got this suggestion from my esteemed brother, Charles.

The Gretna Cairn!

I’ve always thought Gretna was a crummy stitch up – a place where you could marry in a hurry, skip a lot of legal stuff and have a Scot with a bagpipe stand next to you during the photo session. Then pay him before the next married couple in the queue arrived. Gretna used to issue marriage licenses faster than a drive in burger joint spreads obesity and greasy globs on the steering wheel.

English law ceases in Gretna. Scottish law prevails. You go there, get married and clear off. I’m not sure if Gretna does divorces. If it doesn’t it shouldn’t start.

That would take the romance out of it!

They should hook up with a neighbouring town and get things going there on a strictly illegal basis of breaking customer trust and sharing confidential client information.

Marry in Gretna. Divorce in Glenadoon! With a guy with a bagpipe!

OK let’s get to the point!

And the point is the Gretna Cairn!

Cairn? Cairn? What the f****s a cairn?

Good question( no more beer for that man!). A cairn is a pile of stones. People walking the lonelier mountains of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland would (and do) drop a stone as a path marker for those who would come next. The stones became mounds of stones and if you were lost you might find one, trip over it and plummet to your death over Raven’s Crag into the black tarn. Or you might turn left and find another cairn that was more reliable.

I have climbed most of the Lake District mountains (or ‘fells’ as they are locally known) and the cairns have always been of help and whenever I pass one I add a stone. Life would not be complete without idiots and some people knock over cairns and think it’s funny.

Then they get lost and the mists come down and jokes cease.

Here is a cairn in Gretna. A strange idea in my opinion and not an idea that would spring to mind. Gretna? Cairns? But, well, why not? Over to Charles! And Rory Stewart! I think this cairn could be great fun!

From: Rory Stewart [] On Behalf Of Rory Stewart
Subject: Join us on Sunday 20th July

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Dear All,

Please come and join us at Gretna on Sunday 20 July, for the laying of the Foundation stone of "the Auld Acquaintance’, and please forward this to others.

We will be gathering from midday and we will put the first stone down for the cairn shortly before 2pm.

It will be an event for young and old, all nations, and people of any political persuasion or none. We will have food, music, activities for children and of course some stones too! (But please bring a stone that means something to you if you can). And if you can’t make the 20th, the site will be open every day through September. Our hope is that people will continue to come every day after the launch day, to keep building up the cairn.

Detailed directions can be found here. The field is right next to the Old Toll House.

If you are unable to attend, but would like to make a contribution to the cairn, however small, we have set up a crowd-funding site here. It also contains some videos of early supporters.

Thank you again for your support. Do email as always with any thoughts, or suggestions.

Please forward this on to as many people as you can, and please also tweet and retweet with the link

We look forward to seeing you there,

Hands Across the Border

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