The Long Moss

The Long Moss is a point at the exact northern extremity of Wilton Common, as made famous by its use as the temporary gravesite of one Janet Rae (known as ‘Jenny Saut Ha’, or ‘Jenny of Salt Hall’).

In 1842, on Saturday 2nd of July, the Wilton community came together to walk and re-establish the ancient boundaries of their Common; they elected William Reid, a seventy-four-year-old known as “the old bedlar of Wilton”, as being the best qualified to point out the various marches. As they went, cutting and laying sods along the route, Reid remarked that he would be able to pinpoint the exact location of the northern-extremity if only he could find the grave of Jenny Saut Ha’.

In 1772, Janet Rae of Salt Hall took her own life. With the Wilton Parish minister, Reverend Dr Samuel Charters away from town, church authorities permitted her internment in the church’s grounds. Unfortunately, this provoked the indignation of the community, who believed committing suicide should preclude a person from these religious rites. They exhumed the body, and placed the coffin against the door of Salt Hall, so that Janet’s husband could find her upon his return (which he did). This most tragic of events (the internment and exhumation of Janet’s body) was repeated once more, before the authorities succumbed to local pressure and compromised, having Janet buried at the most-northern corner of Wilton Common. Only when the minister returned, and demanded Janet’s relocation to his parish’s graveyard, was her body finally there laid to rest.

Hence, when William Reid did successfully find the empty former gravesite of Jenny Saut Ha’ near the Long Moss, the Wilton Community of 1842 were able to confidently assert the northernmost extreme of their Common.