New Slains Castle, Aberdeenshire – Clan Hay
Perched upon the edge of a steep Aberdeenshire cliff, New Slains Castle is the historic seat of Clan Hay.
Located within walking distance of the coastal village of Cruden Bay, the castle is the replacement of an older structure that had previously served as the home of the Hay family. Built in the 13th century, the original Slains Castle would stand around six miles to the southwest of its successor and would only be vacated after it was blown up by King James VI in 1594 after a feud with the Earl of Erroll.
Following this feud, the Earl of Erroll would be forced into exile for three years, before returning and making peace with the King. It would be then that he would make the decision not to rebuild his damaged home but instead to expand upon the structure of a tower house located on the site of the current castle.
Turning New Slains Castle into his impressive home, the Earl would add a range of buildings and a courtyard – creating a fully functioning stately home. It would be expanded again in 1644 and again in 1836 – as the facade was changed to include a granite facing as it began to look more European, reflecting the styles of the time.
Sadly, the Hay family would eventually fall into debt and the castle would have to be sold by the 20th Earl of Erroll in 1916. The new owner would let the castle fall into disrepair and in 1925, the roof would be removed and any valuable stone would be stripped and reused in other construction projects.
Sadly, this is the state that the castle remains in today – abandoned and stripped of its former glory. In fact, so haunting is the building left behind, it served as the inspiration for the 1897 gothic horror novel, Dracula. It appears that the castle will stay in this state for the foreseeable future as any plans to restore it to its former glory have been scuppered before making it past the drawing board. Hopefully, the castle will eventually find a buyer who will be willing to change its fortunes, but until then, it will remain a shell of its former self.