Witches and druids from around the country flocked to Northam Burrows to witness the marriage of a Bideford couple.

Deborah and Mark Cornell were wed in a traditional Pagan handfasting ceremony at the Appledore-end of the burrows on August 5.

Their High Priest travelled from Manchester to carry out the ceremony, and guests travelled from far and wide to attend.

Deborah said: “Sadly people even today mistake paganism as an evil practice of devil worship.

“Paganism does not believe in the church's belief of a devil and I would like to make that very clear.

The handfasting on Northam Burrows. Pictures by Joe Ferris PhotographyThe handfasting on Northam Burrows. Pictures by Joe Ferris Photography

“As pagans we practise and Earth worship. We worship the seasons and the moon cycles and live by what is essentially a farming calendar.

“We felt Northam Burrows was the perfect place to hold our handfasting as North Devon has Viking ship wrecks, stunning coastline, great energy coming in off the Atlantic, and the burrows itself is a place of outstanding natural beauty it encompasses salt marshes and wildlife which we all celebrate.”

A handfasting is an old Pagan custom, which dates back to the time of the Celts. Originally, it was a trial period, like an engagement, where two people would declare a binding union between themselves for a year-and-a-day.

There are many variations of a handfasting ceremony, but after the bride and groom declare their intent, their hands are clasped and fastened together with cord.

The handfasting on Northam Burrows. Pictures by Joe Ferris PhotographyThe handfasting on Northam Burrows. Pictures by Joe Ferris Photography

Sometimes they end the ceremony by leaping over a broomstick.

The couple first met on a Pagan Facebook page in September 2016, when Deborah lived in Derbyshire and Mark lived in Essex.

They moved to Bideford earlier this year and have now set up their own Facebook group for local practising witches and druids.

“The day went fantastically with our guests meeting us at our home and then us all travelling down to the burrows together,” said Deborah.

The handfasting on Northam Burrows. Pictures by Joe Ferris PhotographyThe handfasting on Northam Burrows. Pictures by Joe Ferris Photography

““It was a most magical day and the energy that came in from the cleric sea and our guests was enchanting.

“We shall be renewing our handfasting vows in a year and a day which is what is generally practiced in a handfasting.”