LONDON — Dracula's castle is up for sale.
The creepy ruin in northeast Scotland that inspired author Bram Stoker's horror classic about the cape-waving vampire has been put on the selling block by a Scottish real estate firm for $262,500.
But anyone with plans for a tourist attraction--beware.
The castle is being offered by a Scottish building firm that abandoned plans for a resort because of the area's high property taxes and the objections of local villagers.
Real estate officials said several hundred prospective buyers--including a handful of Americans--have expressed interest in Slains Castle, a crumbling ruin perched on a storm-lashed cliff above the North Sea.
Searching for Blood
The setting, where Stoker often vacationed, inspired the British author's 1897 novel, "Dracula," about the immortal vampire who stalked the streets of London at night in search of blood.
"Looking up at this huge castle on the wind-swept cliffs, Stoker saw it fit to house his vampire," said John Rhind of the Aberdeen and Northern real estate firm, which hopes to close the sale next month.
"It was such an inspiration for him that he used to walk the cliffs at night with his cape blowing in the wind," he added.
Stoker based his character on Vlad the Impaler--also known as Vlad Dracula, a 15th Century Transylvanian prince who disposed of peasants by impaling them on wooden stakes. The actual Castle Dracula stands in the mountainous Romanian region.
The Scottish real estate sale is for 330 acres of land with a farmhouse and cottage on the rocky headland north of Cruden Bay. The roofless, crumbling stone skeleton of Slains Castle stands on 100 acres on cliffs 200 feet above the bay.
Despite the firm's moderate advertising campaign for the sale, Rhind said, it is the castle's connection with Dracula that has taken "several hundred" prospective buyers, including Americans and Canadians, by the jugular.
"There's very little value in Dracula's castle itself. It just so happens the land has the castle, and the castle has the connection with Dracula," he said.
"The land has a tremendous amount of potential in farming, tourism and quite a few other things. One English chap said he wants to turn it into a 'frightful weekend' resort."
But any plans to raise the deserted ruin from its crumbling coffin atop the cliffs may be futile.
The deserted castle stands near the city of Aberdeen, which has a large American population--10,000--because of the North Sea oil industry.
During the area's oil boom a decade ago, entrepreneurs--including the Scottish construction firm that owns the castle and is trying to sell it--hoped that the area could be transformed into a tourist resort.
Those plans were ditched after residents in Cruden village objected and because of high property taxes brought on by an oil price fall almost two years ago.
The castle's history does not bite the same vein as Stoker's novel.
It was originally built in the 16th Century by the ninth Earl of Errol and was rebuilt in 1837 for the 18th earl, who married the daughter of King William IV.
But debts forced the 20th Century earl to sell the castle in 1916 to a wealthy ship owner, Sir John Ellerman, who in 1925 removed its roof and dismantled it.
Slains had more than 80 rooms in the days when Stoker walked its environs, fantasizing about bats that transformed into fanged humans. But it's just a "barren skeleton today," Rhind said.
Despite the time lapse, Dracula castle still takes people by the jugular.
There are no guided tours to the barren site. And "even though it's a difficult walk to get there," the castle still attracts hundreds of tourists fascinated by its history, Rhind said.
"All sorts of people still phone me up about vampires and bats, asking "Does Dracula live there?' " he laughed.
"I've run out of answers."