Demolition of Slains Castle  
The hamlet of Old Slains Castle taken at the end of the 19th Century. The dominant feature of Old Slains Castle is the ruined Norman Keep. Subsequently owned by the Earl of Erroll, the castle was destroyed by King James V1 of Scotland in 1594 to punish the Earl for becoming involved in a Catholic plot against him.

The houses seen clustered around the ruin were largely abandoned in 1900 when the inhabitants, following several seasons of poor fishing, voted to move to seek their fortunes in Aberdeen.

How it looks today
In 1707 the Excise duty on spirits was greatly increased with the aim of putting spirits out of reach of the lower classes. This, along with local Jacobite sympathies, encouraged the smuggling of gin from the Continent, mainly the Low Countries. The north east of Scotland was ideally situated for this smuggling trade, and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries Collieston became one of the main centres for the landing of smuggled goods. Writing in 1801 Collector Allardyce of Aberdeen Customs described Collieston as ‘the principal haunt of the smugglers for landing goods’, and whose inhabitants were ‘ a turbulent riotous pilfering set’.
Collieston’s most famous smuggler is Philip Kennedy. He earned his fame not through his exploits as a smuggler but because of his courageous defence of his illicit goods and his tragic death from a blow from a custom’s cutlass.
Phillip Kennedy farmed at The Ward in the Parish of Slains. On 19th December 1798 he and his brother John had taken ashore at Cransdale 16 ankers of Holland gin and with the help of servants were transporting it to the Ward for concealment. They had only travelled a short distance when the brothers were challenged by a number of gaugers armed with cutlasses. For arms the Kennedys had stout sticks weighted with lead. In the fight that followed Phillip tripped up two of the officers and held them down. Meanwhile John had been wounded by a cutlass blow to the head. The officer who inflicted this wound then shouted on Phillip to release the two men he was holding down but when Phillip refused to do so the officer struck him on the head with his cutlass splitting open his head. Phillip though badly wounded staggered for almost a mile to the farmhouse of Kirkton of Slains where he is reported to have said before he died, “If a’ had bin as true as me the prize wid a bin safe and widna bin bleedin tae death” The settle on which he died is still in a house in the village.
Phillip Kennedy’s grave can be seen on the right hand side immediately you enter through the gate into Slains Churchyard.

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....copyright collieston's century 2003