Slains Castle, also known as New Slains Castle is a ruined castle in Aberdeenshire. It overlooks the North Sea from its cliff-top site 1 kilometre east of Cruden Bay. The core of the castle is a 16th-century tower house, built by the 9th Earl of Erroll. Bram Stoker once stayed in the Castle, using it as inspiration for his story, Dracula.

Dracula and his Scottish links are revealed

DRACULA and his links to Scotland are being marked tonight.

Bram Stoker’s novel is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Stoker began writing Dracula while staying at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel in Cruden Bay, with his signatures from its guestbook in 1894 and 1895 surviving to this day.

Aberdeeshire Council is hosting a civic reception at the hotel tonight.

Nearby Slains Castle is credited with providing the inspiration for Dracula’s castle, including its octagonal room.

Dracula - Slains Castle

Dacre Stoker, the author’s great-grandnephew, took part in a book signing earlier this week at Blackwell’s bookshop in Edinburgh.

He said: “It is a great privilege to [be] part of this special anniversary, and even more so to be celebrating it in what is arguably the birthplace of Dracula – Scotland.

“The rich culture and heritage clearly left its impact on Bram; from the ruins of Slains Castle clearly inspiring the gothic setting of Dracula’s castle, to the vast landscape of Aberdeenshire’s coast to his links to Edinburgh and the Borders, including his friendships with writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle and other writers that make up the fabric of Scotland’s literary tradition.

“Scotland has inspired many writers and artists for centuries and its stories and landscapes hopefully will continue to inspire many more to come.”

Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager at national tourism marketing agency VisitScotland, added: “This anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to highlight Scotland’s connections to this world-renowned book and character.

“Dracula holds such a sense of intrigue and mystery, so it is not surprising that Bram Stoker’s writing is said to have been influenced by the country’s magical landscapes and locations while on his travels.

“It was pleasure to co-host the special event in Edinburgh and have Dacre involved in sharing his passion and knowledge about Dracula in Scotland.”

She added: “[This is] also Scotland’s Year of Stories – so this anniversary is a perfect fit to celebrate our links to this world-famous tale.

“And we hope that by shining a light on those ties, people will come and see the inspirational places that arguably helped created one of the most famous pieces of literature ever written.”

VisitScotland has highlighted other locations with links to Dracula:

  • Edinburgh – Before writing Dracula, Bram Stoker worked as a theatre manager, which saw him heavily involved in the opening night of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh in 1883;
  • Renfield Street, Glasgow – It is believed Bram Stoker supported the staging of plays at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow and that the name of RM Renfield, the character featured in the novel, was taken from Glasgow’s Renfield Street;
  • Glamis Castle – There is said to be a “vampire child” who was born in the castle and kept in a secret room. Another vampire legend tells of a woman who worked in the castle and was caught drinking blood from a body and was punished by being walled up alive in a secret room, where she remains to this day;
  • Melrose Abbey – Reportedly, during the 12th century, an unpopular priest lived at the abbey. He was a rule-breaker and nicknamed “Hunderprest” because he preferred hunting with dogs rather than serving God. After he died and was buried on the grounds, it’s alleged Hunderprest rose from his tomb, wailing and drinking the blood of the nuns. One night, as the undead priest rose again, the other priests beheaded him, cremated him and scattered his ashes to the wind;
  • Blair Atholl – A local tale describes how two poachers were attacked by a blood sucking creature while they slept in a bothy near Glen Tilt. The pair fought the creature off, after which it flew away into the night or accounts claim it simply vanished;
  •  Jedburgh and Airdrie – Another interesting Dracula connection is through Emily Gerard, an author who was born in Jedburgh and lived in Airdrie. She was the first person to bring the word “nosferatu” or “vampire” into use in western Europe. She studied and wrote about Transylvanian folklore, having married an Austro-Hungarian chevalier who was stationed in a small town there. Gerard’s collection of Transylvanian myths and legends are known to have influenced Stoker’s Dracula.

Read more literary stories on Scottish Field’s books pages.