To me, this name conjures visions of long dark mossy passages and creepy, eerie noises in the night. Tall towers with spiraling staircases and big solid doors with gigantic rusty metal keys. Large clammy spiderwebs glistening with the drops created by the damp, thick fog that swirls around the thick stone walls.
In the dark, the sounds of the sea are exaggerated and echo in the ravines, making mournful wails that could be human. The wind moans in the trees and causes shadows to dance across the walls in the moonlight. Mysterious shapes trick the imagination and take on the shape of coffins and ghoulish trappings that could only belong to Dracula and his ilk.
In the daylight, the place is nowhere near as scary, and it has been nearly 90 years without a roof, so the sun is able to peer inside what used to be a large castle on the far eastern edge of Scotland. The trees are gone (they may never have been there!) and so are many of the walls. But I would bet that if you were to visit the ruins of Slain’s Castle on an eerie moonlit, windy night, you would take little convincing that Dracula could happily take up residence there!
The castle was built in 1597 and more buildings added in 1664. In 1836 the establishment was again expanded and altered.
But by 1916 the cost of maintaining the building and family death taxes forced its sale. The new owner did not care for the place and it has deteriorated since this time.
Slain’s Castle faces the sea and is located right on the edge of steep cliffs. It is a mysterious building which is visible from the Cruden Bay Harbour – surrounded by open fields and quite intriguing as there are no interpretive signs or explanations for its presence within or around the village itself.
The site has no access road, so is only accessible on foot. We searched around for quite a while before finding a way to get across to explore the ruin. This puzzled us until we realised that tourism is not actively encouraged. The site could be quite dangerous and it seems no one wants the responsibility of looking after curious sightseers.
There are deep, steep sided ravines in the surrounding fields which form sea inlets that are inaccessible from the shore. Some of these are quite near the front facade of the buildings and provide stunning views from the gaping window cavities.
The remaining ruins are mostly brick walled passages which lead to large, open rooms. The floors are now overrun by weeds and the place has a general unkempt air. It is difficult to work out how the Slain’s Castle was designed, unless looking at it from above. This is because of the numerous additions and alterations it has had through its lifetime.
So what is the link between this castle ruin and Dracula?
Many impressive people stayed at the castle in its heyday, including Bram Stoker, who apparently was so inspired by the place that he used the buildings as a setting for his story of Dracula!