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Scotland and castles go together - no visitor to Caledonia has to go many miles before seeing a castle or two. Indeed, in an area like Grampion, castles are so plentiful that a visitor could be permitted to feel a bit confused as to which castles have been visited and which are to come! After years of warfare and changing family fortunes some castles are now only represented by a crumbling ruin or have, as in the case of Cupar Castle, completely disappeared. Cupar Castle was one of the most important castles in medieval Scotland and played a pivotal role during the Wars of Independence. It was the scene of many prolonged battles and sieges and was fought over by Sir William Wallace and King Robert I, The Bruce, on the Scots side in opposition to the English oppressors King Edward I and his son Edward II. In the mid-14th century the castle was finally destroyed by the townspeople of Cupar, on the order of David II, King of Scots, ( son of Robert I ), to stop it falling again into English hands. This was a common practice by the Scots during the Wars of Independence as a ruined castle prevented the English invaders using castles as a base. Redevelopment in Cupar, the former County town of Fife, has given archaeologists the opportunity to ascertain what remnants of the town's medieval castle still remain. Early investigations have already revealed traces of medieval life and pottery dating back to the 13th century. It is hoped that the investigations will help to shed light on the history of Cupar Castle.
 
Perhaps the best known of Scotland's castles are Stirling, a favourite of the Stewart Kings, and Edinburgh, which watches over our capital city. Edinburgh Castle regularly emerges as the most popular paid visitor attraction in Scotland. To see ' The Honours of Scotland ' embracing the Scottish Crown, Sceptre and Sword of State, among the oldest Crown Jewels in Europe, alone are worth the price of the admission ticket. Thoughts this week fall on Edinburgh Castle, for it  was from there, on 18th March 1286, that Scotland's greatest king, Alexander III, set off on the journey which led to his untimely death on the sands of Pettycur Bay in Fife. On Sunday a commemoration meeting in memory of Alexander and his reign, ' The Golden Age ' of Scottish history, will be held at the Alexander III memorial, which stands near the spot where he died 716 years ago.
 
Edinburgh Castle, the esplanade of which is used for the world famous Edinburgh military Tattoo, sits on a most impressive basalt plinth but it is a softer Edinburgh Rock which provides this weeks recipe. Edinburgh Rock is perhaps one of the best known of Scotland's confectionery delights but it came about by accident. Alexander Fergusson, popularly known as ' Sweetie Sandy ' came across a piece of confectionery which he had overlooked and left lying untouched for several months. From this seemingly impossible start he became one of  19th century Edinburgh's most successful confectioners and Edinburgh Rock is now exported all over the world. But you can make it yourself.
 
Edinburgh Rock
 
Ingredients : 1 lb sugar; 1/4 pt water; 1/2 teasp cream of tartar; food colouring and flavouring to suit your taste eg green or yellow food colouring; peppermint or lemon flavouring
 
Melt sugar in water and bring nearly to the boil. Add cream of tartar just before boiling point. Boil without stirring until toffee forms a hard lump in cold water. Take off the stove and add colouring and flavouring, then pour on to a greased marble slab. When it has cooled enough to handle, sprinkle with icing sugar, and repeatedly "pull" until it is dull and opaque. Do not twist. Pull out into one long strip, about 1/2 inch thick, and cut with a pair of greased scissors  into 6 inch lengths.Dust the rock with icing sugar and leave in a warm room for a day or so until the rock becomes powdery and brittle. Store in an airtight tin.

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