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 Tantallon Cakes

Scotland's national flag, The Saltire or St Andrew's Cross, is the oldest in the Commonwealth and Europe, possibly in the world. According to tradition it was adopted following a battle fought in 832AD near Althelstaneford in East Lothian. The Scottish flag Trust, who have done much good work in promoting The Saltire, give the following account of how the 832AD battle resulted in The Saltire becoming the flag of Scotland -
'An army of Picts under Angus mac Fergus, High King of Alba, and aided by a contingent of Scots led by Eochaidh, King of Dalriada ( Kenneth mac Alpin's grandfather ) had been on a punitive raid into Lothian ( then and for long afterwards Northumbrian territory ), and were being pursued by a larger force of Angles and Saxons under one Athelstan. The Albannach/Scots were caught and stood to face their pursuers in the area of Markle, near modern East Linton. This is to the north of the modern cillage of Athelstaneford ( which was resited on higher ground in the 18th century ), where the Peffer which flows into the Firth of Forth at Aberlady, forms a wide vale. Being then wholly undrained, the Peffer presented a major obstacle to crossing, and the two armies came together at the ford near the present day farm of Prora ( one of the field names there is still the Bloody Lands ). Fearing the outcome of the encounter, King Angus led prayers for deliverance, and was rewarded by seeing a cloud formation of a white saltire ( the diagonal cross on which St Andrew had been martyred ) against a blue sky. The King vowed that if, with the saint's help, he gained the victory, then Andrew would thereafter be the patron saint of Scotland. The Scots did win, and the Saltire became the flag of Scotland. When Kenneth mac Alpin, who may have been present with his grandfather at the battle, later united Picts and Scots and named the entity Scotland, Andrew did indeed become the patron saint of the united realm.'
See last issue for story of how the relicts of St Andrew came to Scotland. The Saltire flies all year round, beside the Saltire Memorial erected in 1965 in Althelstaneford Kirkyard, to commemorate the event of 832AD. Thanks to the efforts of the Scottish Flag Trust a doocote, beside the Kirk, has been restored and converted in 1996 into the Flag Heritage Centre and visitors can enjoy a short audio visual dramatisation of the traditional origins of the Battle Flag of Scotland. There are spectacular views northwards towards the site of the battle and earlier this year, 27 April 2001, Dr Winifred M Ewing MSP officially opened a new viewpoint/seating area and restoration of copper panels, depicting the battle, in the Heritage Centre. The Church and Saltire Memorial can be visited at any time. The Heritage Centre is open daily between 10am and 5pm from April to September. Admission is free. Althelstaneford lies some 20 miles from Edinburgh and is easily accessed from the A1. The B1347 turn-off is a mile to the eat of Haddington and is well signposted. There are many interesting places to visit in East Lothian but make sure that you do visit Athelstaneford. This weeks recipe comes from East Lothian and shares its name with another well known landmark, the ruined stronghold of Tantallon Castle, several miles east of North Berwick. Tantallon Cakes, a good shortbread variance, is a tasty reminder of the part of Scotland which gave us our National Flag.
Tantallon Cakes
Ingredients : 8 oz plain flour ( 225 g ); 1 oz caster sugar ( 25 g ); 1 tbsp rice flour; 1 tsp grated lemon rind; 4 oz butter ( 100 g )
Preheat oven to 325 deg F/170 deg C or gas mark 3
Sift the flour into a bowl. Take out one tablespoonful and replace this with one tablespoonful of rice flour. Now add the sugar and lemon rind. Finally work in the butter with your hands into a lump the consistency of putty! Place on a floured board and press with your hands not a rolling pin, till it is about half inch ( 1 cm ) thick. Cut into rounds about one and half inch ( 4 cm ) diameter. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a cool oven for about 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle thickly with caster sugar while still hot.

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