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Castle Puddings

This week we continue our visit to East Wemyss where the three-day dig by Channel Four's Time Team has been hailed as a great success by Bill Barker, chairman of the Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (SWACS). Bill Barker told The Flag " We first contacted Time Team five years  ago and they clearly had not fogotten the possibility of an interesting project at the Caves.The programme should help stir up further interest in the Caves."
SWACS have already achieved much in keeping interest in the Wemyss Caves alive. The Society was formed in 1988, after a car was driven into Jonathan's Cave and then set on fire. The fire destroyed one of the Caves's most famous drawings - a swan - which incidently forms part of the Wemyss family crest. The activity of SWACS has been important in helping to preserve the remaining Caves and their unique drawings. The Society endeavours to educate people of all ages about the importance of the Caves and to record features and changes in the Caves and their drawings. The coast around the Caves is constantly being eroded by high seas and although massive sea defences have been installed in the village and along to the Caves much more is give safe coastal access to the Caves. Given the importance of the Caves and the unique nature of the cave drawings, the task should be a National one and undertaken by the Scottish Parliament.The Wemyss Caves and the nearby Macduff Castle should be a major historical visitor attraction.
The Society has premises in the Basement Suite of East Wemyss Primary School which can be opened by appointment or can be visited on Open Sunday afternoons between 2 and 4.30pm every second Sunday of the month from April to September inclusive. Guided tours of the Caves are included in the Open Day. Adult membership of SWACS is very reaonable - Adults 3.00, Juniors and Senior Citizens 2.00 - contact Bill Barker at 12 Approach Row, East Wemyss, Fife.
Above the Well Caves,referred to in last week's report of the Time Team dig, stands the remaining ruined tower of Macduff Castle. A path runs from the east of East Wemyss Cemetery and leads to Macduff Castle from the main A955 road from Dysart. Originally Macduff Castle would have been a wooden structure and belonged to Macduff, Thane of Fife. It is believed that one of Macduff's castles stood on the site c1057. The first stone castle was probably built by Ian Mor Nan Uamh, otherwise known as 'Muckle John of the Caves', who was said to be the first proven ancestor of the Wemyss family.He died in 1265. The Castle was visited in 1304 by King Edward I of England, the 'Hammer of the Scots', who progressed Fife and stayed at Macduff Castle as guest of Sir Michael Wemyss. Langshanks is reported to have been totally unimpressed by the Castle. In 1306, discovering that Sir Michael was supporting Robert 1, King of Scots, Edward I ordered Sir Aymer de Valance, the Earl of Pembroke, to destroy the Castle. It would appear not to have been completely destroyed and sometime after Bannockburn (1314) the remains of the gatehouse was rebuilt into a single tower. In 1330 the Laird of Wemyss entertained Randolf Earl of Moray, Regent of Scotland at the Castle. After Sir Michael's death c1342, the Estates were divided between his three daughters as he had no male heir. His second daughter married William Livingstone of Drumry and stayed at Macduff Castle. The Livingstones continued to live at Macduff for 100 years, the line finishing with a daughter who married Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, the architect of Falkland Palace. Wemyss Castle was built around 1420  by Sir Michael Wemyss. In 1530 the Hamiltons exchanged estates with the Colvilles of Ayrshire. who lived in Macduff Castle for about 100 years until 1630. The Colvilles extended the Castle to the west, building a second tower and adding a hall between the two towers with outbuildings and an outer wall. During the occupation by the Colvilles, the Castle was known as Colville House. When Lord Colville died around 1630, Sir John, the First Earl of Wemyss bought back the eastern part of the estate from the Colvilles and made Macduff Castle his chief residence. Until that time members of the Wemyss family lived at Wemyss Castle. Sir John's son David, later the Second Earl of Wemyss however preferred Wemyss Castle and extended it between 1669 and 1670. The last time Macduff was known to be inhabited was in 1666 when Lady Jean Wemyss, the Countess of Sutherland asked to bring her children with her to live in the Castle in the hope of escaping the prevailing plague.
Over the years the Castle was allowed to fall into ruin. In 1926 some remedial work was done by the Wemyss family and the Castle was used as a store. By 1967 one of the two towers was in a dangerous state and Fife County Council called in the Army to demolish the East Tower. The remaining tower has a spiral staircase but entrance has just been blocked off in the interests of public safety. You can make your way down to the Caves from the Castle ruins.
Castles also feature in this week's recipe - Castle Puddings - which is taken from the SWRI Cookery Book (Eighth Edition 1974).
Castle Puddings
Ingredients : 4 oz margarine; 6 oz flour; 2 eggs; 4 oz sugar; 1/2 teaspoonful baking powder; 2 tablespoons water
Beat the margarine and sugar to a cream, add the eggs, then the flour and baking powder, and lastly the water. Half-fill some well greased Castle pudding tins and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Serve with jam sauce. 

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