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Queen Mary's Tart

A visit to Stirling Castle is a must for any visitor to Scotland. Standing guard over the newest Scottish city, Stirling Castle bore witness to Scotland's two greatest victories over English aggressors - Stirling Brig in 1297 and the pivotal Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
 
Looking up at the castle from the town the recently restored Great Hall stands out proudly from the rest of the castle buildings. The Great Hall alone, originally built by James IV, King of Scots, is well worth the admission price to visit the castle. If you visit Stirling Castle between now and 20th May 2002, you will have the added bonus of seeing an exhibition - The Thistle and the Rose - marking the 500th anniversary of the planned marriage between James IV and Margaret, daughter of King Henry VII of England. The marriage was planned in 1502 and the wedding ceremony took place on 8th August 1503. It was hoped that the marriage involving the 30-year-old king and the 13-year-old Margaret would lead to closer relations between Scotland and England through the Treaty of Perpetual Peace. The peace only lasted eleven years! In 1515, James IV, responding to an appeal for assistance from the French Queen, invaded England. He led the largest ever Scottish army to disastrous defeat at Flodden on 9th September.
 
The Thistle and the Rose is a major exhibition and has been brought together by Historic Scotland and the National Archives of Scotland with sponsorship from Scottish Widows. The exhibition is staged, appropriately, in the Queen's Presence Chamber in Stirling Castle as the castle was a favourite of the Stewart dynasty and it was Stirling which was Margaret's ultimate destination when she left her father's court in London.
 
James IV saw himself as very much a Renaissance European monarch and his reign was characterised by grand building projects, such as the Great Hall, and patronage of the Arts, Poetry and Music. Indeed it was the Royal Makkar, William Dunbar, who wrote a poem 'The Thrissil and the Rois' on the marriage of James and Margaret which gives the exhibition its title. We stay in Royal company with this weeks recipe - Queen Mary's Tart - a royal tea-time treat.
 
Queen Mary's Tart
 
Ingredients : 8 oz puff pastry; 2 tablespoons jam; 2 oz sugar; 2 oz butter; 2 oz chopped mixed peel; 1 tablespoon sultanas; 2 eggs, beaten
 
Set oven to 425 deg F or Gas Mark 7. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and line a 7 inch greased flan dish. Spread the jam over the pastry base. Melt the sugar and butter in a saucepan over a very gentle heat. Add the mixed peel and sultanas. Remove from the heat and mix in the beaten eggs. Pour into the pastry case. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set and golden brown. Serve hot or cold as a pudding with whipped cream or cold, sliced as a tea-time treat.

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