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The Earls of Erroll, chiefs of Clan Hay, were a powerful family in the area for generations. The family prospered after William Hay, 18th Earl of Erroll, married the daughter of King William IV. Francis Hay, 9th Earl of Erroll, built New Slains Castle after James VI had destroyed his castle, known as Slains Castle near Collieston, after the Hays participated in the rebellion of 1594. But, over time, misfortunes befell the Hays – and in 1916, the castle and contents were put up for sale.
The castle was then sold in 1916 and fell into disrepair in the first quarter of the 20th century, after more than 300 years of occupation by the Errolls. The castle was bought by Sir John Ellerman of the shipping line. He in turn gave it up in 1925 and its roof was removed to avoid paying taxes. That led to the inevitable ruin seen today.
Once a major stronghold and occupying a large area, it consisted of a massive 15th century keep, a fragment of which survives, and a courtyard defended by ditches. The castle was originally a property of the Comyns but passed to the Hay Earls of Erroll early in the 14th century.
In the late 19th century, the 19th Earl of Erroll entertained many celebrities at the castle. Some believe it was Bram Stoker’s inspiration for the castle of Count Dracula. In 1948, the Earl of Erroll accorded the title Slains Pursuivant to his newly revived private officer of arms and appointed Michael Maclagan to the position. The current holder of the office, Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, is a retired banker and an authority on heraldry.
Bram Stoker was staying in a local hotel in Cruden Bay when he heard of Slains Castle – which he saw as ‘the castle of the dead’. It may have helped to inspire his writing of the novel, Dracula.
The ruin of the 13th century Old Slains Castle lie about 6 miles to the Southwest. The older castle, also a family seat of the Errolls, was blown up by James VI as a punishment for their part in the 1597 plot by the Earl of Huntly against him.
Location: Cruden Bay, North East coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
Shutter Priority: 1/160 sec
Metering Mode: Evaluative
Copyright: Yannik Hay
Lens: Tamron 28-300mm@300mm
Photoshop CS5 for Mac – Camera Raw 6.41