A devoted couple got “married” by taking part in a druid ceremony dating back to medieval times.

Eve and Roy Dalley were joined in a hand fasting ceremony at Abbotsbury, near Weymouth, to show their spiritual commitment to each other.

The ceremony was carried out by a member of the Dorset Grove of Druids.

Eve became initiated into the group after meeting one of its members while fundraising for an Amnesty International trek to Peru.

She took up reiki and meditation, and cites this as the beginning of her spiritual journey.

Eve, 38, a healer, said the hand fasting ceremony, which involved having her hand bound to Roy’s with coloured cords, meant more to her than her wedding.

The pair, who live in Portesham and got legally married in March, smashed a glass after drinking from it, then jumped over a broomstick to signify they were wed.

Guest were also asked to jump over the broomstick.

The moving ceremony took place close to St Catherine’s Chapel, Abbotsbury, on a hillside overlooking the Jurassic Coast.

Onlookers, including tourists from around the world, watched the pair declare their love and commitment to each other and were encouraged to join in.

Eve said: “For me the hand fasting was the proper wedding ceremony. Everyone that follows a spiritual guide has a connection with spirits.

“I believe that me and Roy were meant to happen.

“I was grinning the whole day of the ceremony.

“We started off walking in pairs up the hill and as soon as you start walking into something like that your heart starts pounding and you can feel the energy.

“It felt like something really special.”

Roy, 52, a builder and contractor, said he was initially sceptical about the hand fasting ceremony.

He said: “After living with Eve for a while and speaking to the druid Ian Temple, also known as Wild Fox, the more I learned about the way of the druids/Celts, the old way of life, the more I liked the idea of having a hand fasting and it grew on me.

“To me it became the ‘proper’ wedding.”

After the ceremony the “wedding” party celebrated in the garden of Eve’s parents followed by drinks at the local pub.

Roy said: “During the ceremony my heart was pounding and I could feel the strong energy building around me.

“I felt great, on top of the world.

Afterwards I felt like I was floating with joy and really pleased that some friends and family were there to witness my lovely day.”

The couple have a two-month-old daughter, Florence Daisy May Dalley.

Eve, who is originally from York, is calling for a greater understanding of druid ceremonies.

She said: “For me it’s a lifestyle choice and it’s a personal journey you go on and become more sensitive to energy around you.

“I feel like I now have a heightened sense of awareness.

“I think some people might think we are complete weirdos.

“Some people are stuck in their ways and think that a church wedding is the only type of wedding people should be having.

“It’s strange how society looks at things.

“I think there is a lack of understanding about what druids do.

“For me it’s about living consciously and honouring myself and the earth and respecting others around me.

“I believe you should treat people how you expect to be treated and as long as you’re not hurting anyone else then what does it matter what path you follow?”

Although hand fasting isn’t legally recognised it is the preferred form of marriage within Pagan communities.

The Dorset Grove of Druids also performs baby naming ceremonies and funerals.

This druid group is based in the county, but draws its membership from as far afield as the USA and Australia.

The group has 60 to 80 members, but there are around 25 initiated members, who are known as Druidic.

Members meet at Knowlton Henge eight times a year to celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year.

The Dorset Grove of Druids does field trips on a regular basis with nature based themes which are open to all.

Recently the group held a Dorset Grove Annual Lurk, where they visited Avebury Stone Circle followed by a picnic in the woods.


Hand fasting was a common form of marriage in pre-Christian Saxon England.

In medieval times only the wealthy were married by the clergy, the poor were hand fasted and it is thought that hand fasting was a common form of marriage in preChristian Saxon England.

Thirteen coloured cords are placed around the couple’s hands signifying various qualities and the 13th signifying love.

With the advent of the first Marriage Act of 1753, hand fasting went into rapid decline although it was still being used as late as the end of the 19th century in the more rural outposts of the British Isles.