A guest book bearing the signature of a legendary author is to be restored for north-east visitors to see for years to come.
Bram Stoker visited the Kilmarnock Arms in Cruden Bay twice, in 1894 and 1895, where he wrote the first chapters of his famous Gothic novel Dracula.
Stoker regularly visited Cruden Bay, then called Port Errol, first staying at the hotel and then in nearby cottages.
It is widely believed Slains Castle was the inspiration for the novel.
Stoker took month-long holidays at the seaside village, where he concentrated on writing, away from his other job of manager for the Lyceum Theatre in London.
Now the hotel’s guest book, which has two signatures by the Irish-born author, is being restored and, in the meantime, a photocopy of the book – donated by the Port Errol Heritage Group, has taken its place at the hotel.
Local historian and member of the heritage group Mike Shepherd wrote a book about the author’s love of the Aberdeenshire coast.
He said: “The guest book was not damaged, it was just the spine that needed fixed so it doesn’t come apart.
“Bram actually planned to come here. He got out a set of maps and he knew he wanted somewhere between Peterhead and Aberdeen.
“When he first came to Port Errol, he actually wrote to his wife and son asking them to visit him.
“We know now at about 7am each morning he would go for a walk and he would do the same walk at about 5pm.”
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Stoker’s fascination with the north-east village, which required a 13-and-a-half-hour train journey from London, inspired his novel.
The plot and main characters had been planned 10 years before it was written and before Stoker ever stepped foot in Scotland.
However, it did not stop the author from putting little pieces of the north-east into what is the most famous horror book of all time.
Mike said: “You cannot write a vampire novel without having a castle and where he did his writing he could see the castle.
“Actually, in one part of the book he describes the hall that is at Slains Castle. In another part of the book, a Yorkshire fisherman actually spoke with a Doric phrase before going back to a Yorkshire accent.
“He said ‘I wouldn’t fash masel’ — which in Doric means ‘I wouldn’t get upset about it’.”
During his time at Cruden Bay, Stoker also wrote two novels in Doric – The Watter’s Mou and The Mystery of the Sea.
After the writer fell in love with Port Errol, he visited every year until 1910, two years before his death at the age of 64.
It is not known yet where the original guest book will be placed once it has been restored.
Mr Shepherd regularly conducts talks in north-east libraries as the interest in the area’s connection to the author of Dracula endures.
His book, When Brave Men Shudder: The Scottish Origins of Dracula, is available at bookstores and on Amazon.