Bram Stoker’s Scottish ‘Dracula’ castle saved by pensioner’s decade-long battle

Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, which is renowned for its connections to Bram Stoker's Dracula, has been saved
Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, which is renowned for its connections to Bram Stoker's Dracula, has been saved
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A pensioner has succeeded in his mission to save for the nation a castle that is internationally renowned for its connections with Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Joe Allan, 83, has been fighting for almost a decade to have Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire listed by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

He said a senior official from the agency wrote to him saying the imposing ruin, the dramatic silhouette of which dominates the cliff-top skyline near Cruden Bay, was to be granted B-listed status.

The novelist was inspired by the imposing building and wrote part of the 1897 Gothic horror story while staying at nearby Crooked Lum Cottage, which he used for almost 20 years.

In Dracula, Stoker wrote about “a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky”.

Experts say the floor plan of Dracula’s lair matches the layout of Slains. Among the many references is one describing “a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly without a window of any sort”.

Such a room is a key feature in the centre of Slains and the main corridors of the castle lead from it. The room still survives today.

Mr Allan, a retired civil servant from East Kilbride, in South Lanarkshire, spent childhood holidays near the ruin, and has made it his mission to save it for the nation. His campaign has included lobbying First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year, asking her to intervene.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted. It’s first-class news. I read about Count Dracula on holiday one year and then heard the whole story about Bram Stoker and his love of the place.

“This magnificent castle has been deteriorating, exposed to the elements and needs protected from the weather and private developers.”

He added: “Virtually the whole of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ was written here. If you read the book the vast majority of the descriptions match up with Slains Castle, even though Whitby make some claims to it. Stoker’s work paints a marvellous word picture.”

The castle, parts of which dates from the 16th century, has been at the centre of row after a business consortium, the Slains Partnership, was granted outline planning permission by Aberdeenshire Council for holiday flats.

The application was agreed in 2007 and extended until August 2017. Permission has now expired. Any future applications must be scrutinised by HES and Aberdeenshire Council.

The castle has been on the Buildings at Risk Register since 2004.

A spokesman for HES said “The castle is a striking example of a 16th century castle with subsequent alterations and additions in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, demonstrating the changing trends in Scottish domestic architecture from the time of its construction until the roof was removed in the 1920s.

“It is also notable for its association with the works of Samuel Johnson, James Bothwell and Bram Stoker. We welcome input to our consultation closing on 15th February.”