There are two Slains Castles. The original Slains Castle some 5 miles South-E=West of the existing Slains Castle was destroyed in October 1594 on the orders of King James VI. The reason for this order was the 9th Earl of Erroll, Francis Hay, was converted to Roman Catholicism and conspired with other Catholic nobles and together with the Earl of Huntly joined a brief rebellion in 1589.
After a period abroad Francis Hay returned to Scotland and renounced Catholicism in 1597, subsequently returning to royal favour. He abandoned the old severely damaged castle and started anew with a courtyard and square tower originally called Bowness but later became known as New Slains. The wings were extended and a new gallery and corridor was built in 1664 and new front was built in 1707.
The castle was remodeled in the 1830’s. William Hay, 18 Earl of Erroll who married Lady Elizabeth FitzClarence (illegitimate daughter of King William IV) commissioned the Aberdeen architect to completely redesign the castle. The castle became a Scottish baronial mansion complete with granite facings. The gardens were designed by landscape architect T.H.Mawson.
In 1895 the author Bram Stoker visited the area staying nearby in Cruden Bay. He may have been a guest at Slains Castle and its its said that the castle became his inspiration for the novel Dracula.
For the first time in 1913 the house was sold and left the family ending more than 300 years of ownership. It was purchased by Sir John Ellerman, the owner of Ellerman shipping company. He leased it out until 1925 when the roof was removed to avoid paying taxes on the property. Nothing new there. Although the building has deteriorated since the walls are still their full height and it is still an impressive building perched on the cliff edge. There have been a few grandiose plans to convert to apartments etc but nothing has come to pass.