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Melting Moments

On the recent Fife Doors Open Day , many people took the rare opportunity to climb the 103 steps of an 84 foot tower in Dysart.  Among their number was The Flag ‘cultural’ team of Peter and Marilyn Wright, daughter Tricia and grand-daughter Caitlin, who made short work of climbing the Dysart landmark of St Serf’s Tower and enjoying the magnificent view. The remarkably well preserved tower and the ruins of St Serf’s Church overlook Pan Ha with its renovated 16th and 17th century houses . The name Pan Ha is a shortened version of Pan Haugh, a level piece of ground where salt pans were situated. Production of salt by evaporating sea water over coal fires was once a major industry in Dysart, indeed Dysart was known as the ‘Saut Burgh’. The remains of the church are thought to date from the early 16th century, but the first church in Dysart was dedicated to St Servanus or Serf, the 8th century holy man who took up residence in a nearby cave, a place of religious retreat called in Latin a ‘deserta’. Over the years this was corrupted to give us the place-name Dysart. A church on this site was re-dedicated by Bishop David de Bernham on 26 March 1245. By 1800 the church was in need of very expensive repairs and a new Parish Church was built at Townhead in 1802, Part of the old St Serf Church was demolished to allow a road to the harbour. At this time coal was exported from Dysart to Scandinavia and the Low Countries. But the Tower which had been added to the church in the 1540s survives. Built as a look-out tower, the English were carrying out many raiding trips on the east coast of Scotland at the time, from local stone quarried nearby the present harbour. As a place of refuge and defence in troubled times the Tower provided both and was ideally sited to defend the only clear landing place on this stretch of the Forth. The lower windows on the south elevation are in the shape of gunloops, similar to those at nearby Ravenscraig Castle. Not the sort of thing normally associated with a church tower. The Tower over the years housed more peaceful activities than keeping a lookout for marauding English. The ground floor was used as a Session House and it is recorded that Dysart Town Council also used the Tower for their meetings, The Tower also housed the bell to summon worshippers on the Sabbath.

If you get the opportunity to climb the 103 steps of the turnpike stair of the Tower, and emerge on the parapet with its cap house, be assured that the views from the top on a clear day are well worth the climb.

Our thanks to Jim Swan of The Dysart Trust for his information on the Tower and for ensuring the safety of The Flag team in their ascent of same. Tricia led the way up the Tower (behind Jim!) and has been elected to do the recipe for this week. She has chosen a long time family favourite Melting Moments.

Melting Moments

Ingredients: 5oz(125g) self-raising flour; 3oz(75g) caster sugar; 2 1/2 oz(65g) margarine; 1 1/2oz(40g) lard; ½ egg; 1 teaspoon (1 x 5ml) vanilla essence; oats

Method: Cream the margarine, lard and the sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Stir in the flour and mix well. Divide the mixture into 40 pieces and roll each into a ball and toss in rolled oats. Place on greased baking trays and flatten slightly. Bake in a moderate oven 180 deg C, 350 deg F, Gas Mark 4, for 15-20 minutes.

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