Thursday, February 22, 2024
NewsScotland celebrating fang-scinating links to Dracula on novel's 125th anniversary

Scotland celebrating fang-scinating links to Dracula on novel’s 125th anniversary

SCOTLAND is celebrating its surprising links to Dracula and its famed author Bram Stoker on the classic novel’s 125th anniversary.

VisitScotland tells of how the country is said to have played a crucial role in the creation of the book, with Stoker holidaying inorth of the border as he wrote it.

Visitors and locals are being encouraged to indulge in some literary tourism – by visiting the locations depicted in literature and delving into the connections to Dracula.

Locations in Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders and Glasgow all have links to Stoker – but it is perhaps the clifftop castle in Aberdeenshire that is best known for its links to the story.

Landscape view of Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire.
Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire is often credited as being a major inspiration for Dracula’s castle. (C) VisitScotland/North East 250/ Damian Shields

Slains Castle, near Cruden Bay, is believed to have inspired Dracula’s castle – specifically a unique octagon-shaped room described in the book, which can be found in Slains.

Stoker began writing Dracula – which was published in 1897 – while staying at the nearby Kilmarnock Arms Hotel, with his signatures from its guestbook in 1894 and 1895 surviving to this day.

The castle now lies in ruins, and should not be entered for safety reasons.

The 125th anniversary of Dracula is marked during Scotland’s Year of Stories which celebrates and promotes those stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.

Earlier this week, the national tourism organisation co-hosted a special event with Blackwell’s bookshop in Edinburgh to mark the anniversary attended by Stoker’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, who took part in a Q&A and book signing attended by fans of Dracula and horror literature.

Jenni Steele, VisitScotland Film and Creative Industries Manager, said: “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 a pleasure to co-host the special event in Edinburgh and have Dacre involved in sharing his passion and knowledge about Dracula in Scotland.

“2022 also marks 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.”

Dacre Stoker, great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, said: “It is a great privilege to 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 to his links to Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders, including his friendships with 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.” 

Aberdeenshire Council will host a civic reception at The Kilmarnock Arms Hotel in Cruden Bay tonight to unveil a new information panel detailing Bram Stoker’s ties to the area.

Scotland has inspired writers for centuries, from Dracula to Outlander and Harry Potter to Sunset Song..

Pre-COVID-19 there were over three million visits to literary attractions across Scotland from 2013-2019.

Scottish locations with Dracula and vampire ties for visitors to discover include Glamis Castle, Angus, which was was said to have had a ‘vampire child’ 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, Scottish Borders, also reportedly housed a rule-breaking priest during the 12th century nicknamed Hunderprest.

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.

Finally, a local tale of Blair Atholl, Perthshire, tells of two poachers who 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.

Another interesting Dracula connection is through Emily Gerard, an author born in Jedburgh, Scottish Borders and lived in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire.

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.

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