Forget Dracula from Romania, move over Edward Cullen from Forks, goodbye France’s Lestat. Vampires are British and have been roaming our soil for centuries”¦
“On the last stroke of midnight we saw a shadow move across the churchyard. It seemed to come from the church door ”“ or maybe from the great, grey Perkins tomb. It climbed over the low wall into the garden of Croglin Hall.”
Terry Deary’s The Vampire of Croglin is my current backlist love, based on a legend from Cumberland, England. It reveals the events of 1780 when a new family, two brothers and one sister, moved into Croglin Hall. A strange creature, drawn by their arrival, rose from the grave to attack the young woman and left its mark upon her neck. Later this month, we release a new edition of the The Vampire of Croglin to roam the bookshelves with new chilling illustrations by Barrington Stoke favourite Stefano Tambellini.
Shapeshifters in the Highlands
Vampire stories have captured our imaginations for years and as the Barrington Stoke HQ is in Edinburgh, I delved into a little local history. Scotland was teeming with vampires aeons before Eastern Europe became trendy with bloodsucking counts. The Baobhan SÃ¬th (baa-van shee) are women who roam the Highlands, seduce unwary men and can shapeshift. These creatures are apparently very beautiful and rise from their graves only once a year. Fear not, iron can be used against them and this has led the Baobhan SÃ¬th to fear horses, for the animals were once shod with iron shoes.
One legend from Inverleith, near Edinburgh, talks about a medical student in the winter of 1915-1916 who was interested in the paranormal. He heard about a strange apparition in a hotel called William Brien House and spent the night in the building’s ”˜haunted’ attic room, with a bell to ring if he should need aid. Night fell, the bell was rung and a scream was heard. The student was found dead with blood running from wounds in his neck and shoulder.
But it’s all fiction, right? Megan, Barrington Stoke’s publishing assistant, revealed a friend of hers was once approached by a Vampire Society in Glasgow to join their coven. Were they fan(g)s or the real deal?
If I hear nails upon the window pane and spy two eyes glowing in the darkness, I shall remember all I’ve learnt from these spooky tales: always have garlic, silver stakes, iron and remember there’s no such thing as holy ground to a creature that spends its daylight hours sleeping six feet under in churchyards.
Have we missed any lore or are there any creepy tales from your local area? Who are your favourite fictional vampires? Tell us in the comments below or share any gothic reading recommendations via Twitter and Facebook. And if you’re keen to brush up on your knowledge of the undead (or know any young readers who might be) then pick up the new edition of The Vampire of Croglin coming out this month.
“The vampire walks when the moon is full,” Terry Deary writes. The next full moon is Saturday 4th April, a few days away. Let us all hope it’s the Easter Bunny at the end of your garden this weekend and not something a little more sinister”¦