Dracula Soil 🦇
Dracula Soil 🦇
"He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well." ~ Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
This specimen is a vial of earth from Cetatea Poenari, one of the favorite haunts of Vlad Tepes III, Prince of Wallachia, and member of the house of Drăculești. The soil is contained in a small, glass vial with a cork stopper. The vial is enclosed in a handsome, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included.
Please Note: Due to customs regulations, this product cannot be shipped to Australia or New Zealand.
From Cetatea Poenari
Perched high upon a cliffside, Cetatea Poenari is an imposing fortress which was once the home of Vlad III Dracula, also known by his nickname: Vlad the Impaler.
This specimen is a vial of earth from Cetatea Poenari, one of the favorite haunts of Vlad Tepes III, Prince of Wallachia, and member of the house of Drăculești.
The collection of this material harkens back to the old myth that a vampire must sleep on its home soil — an event explored in Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula.
The soil is contained in a small, glass vial with a cork stopper. The vial is enclosed in a handsome, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included.
Please Note: The cork stopper is not sealed so do be careful when handling this specimen. In addition, as noted below, the material was gathered at the base of Cetatea Poenari. This is a very old building it is possible you may find small bits of stone or clay mixed in with the soil.
This specimen is also available as a sterling silver necklace vial, for those who wish to take the extra step for their vampire love.
Want to hear about our trip to the castle? Learn more below!
📸 "The Battle With Torches" by painter Theodor Aman (1831-1891). It depicts the The Attack of Târgovişte, a skirmish fought between forces of Vlad III and Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on Thursday, June 17, 1462.
MORE ABOUT CETATEA POENARI AND DRACULA
“He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image, and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well."~ Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
📸 Vlad Tepes III, Voivode (Warlord) of Wallachia 1448, 1456–1462, and 1476
The Origins of Vlad Dracula
Vlad III is best known today for two things: impalement and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Vlad was born in the early 15th century and would reign as the voivode of Wallachia three times during his life.
His father, Vlad II, gained the nickname Dracul (Dragon) due to his membership in the Order of the Dragon, a society of western Catholic monarchs. Vlad III’s reign was marked with a solidification of his line against rivals to the throne, and a war against the Ottoman Empire. When he had captured a group of Saxons who were loyal to an opponent of his throne, Vlad impaled them all. This is likely where his moniker Țepeș (Impaler) came from.
While his acts of torture are clearly documented, there is contention as to whether Vlad III was truly cruel for his time, or whether he was just one of many equally violent rulers. Folktales about the bloodthirsty voivode of Wallachia were circulated by his enemies, though some scholars believe such tales were exaggerated for political effect.
📸 An aerial view of Cetatea Poenari
Building Dracula's Castle
Cetatea Poenari, or Poenari Castle, was the cliffside stronghold that Vlad III made into one of his main strongholds during his reign. The structure was originally built in the 13th century by Wallachians, but control of the castle moved from group to group until it was abandoned.
Despite its disrepair, Poenari was in a very advantageous position. The craggy hilltop it stood on was easily defensible against invaders and it was placed near the important border of Wallachia and Transylvania. Vlad III saw the strategic possibilities of this ruin and ordered the reconstruction of the fort in the 15th century. After its completion, Poenari was used by Vlad III for the rest of his life and beyond until its abandonment over 100 years later.
In the 20th century, several earthquakes occured in the region which caused damage to the original site and brought pieces of the castle to the ground around the cliff. However, after slight repairs, the castle still stands today as imposing as ever.
📸 Woodcut image from a German pamphlet published in 1499. It depicts Vlad III "the Impaler" dining among the impaled corpses of his victims.
A VAMPIRE IS BORN
One myth that has very little real connection to Vlad III is the vampire. His most common modern association, that of being the namesake of the fictitious Count Dracula, may actually be sheer coincidence. Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, published in 1897, follows a contemporary vampire’s attempt to move from his ancient home of Transylvania to the modern London metropolis.
Early notes on the novel show that Stoker originally intended for his vampire to be named “Count Wampyr” and to have been from Styria, the setting of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 vampire novella Carmilla. It would not be until at least two years after the first written notes on the novel that Stoker would settle on the name Dracula.
Stoker never visited Transylvania himself, and the extent of his research on Vlad III comes from a single book which mentions the voivode in passing. It is quite likely that Stoker had never known of Vlad III’s tendency towards impalement. Rather than being based on a true historical figure, Stoker’s Dracula acts more as a personification of antiquity manifest in the modern world.
📸 Hans collecting earth and brick specimens at the base of the castle
Climbing the Citadel
As noted above, this specimen comes from the grounds of Cetatea Poenari, the citadel of Prince Vlad’s ancestors. Perched high on a steep precipice of rock, the fortress was one of Tepes's favorite haunts. As for the castle's defensive capabilities, it's something we experienced first hand when Hans went to visit. Here's the story behind this specimen's collection.
"When I checked into the hotel, I met a few Romanian tourists. They warned me not to walk the stairs to the fortress at night. I thought they were joking. I had secured permission already, but they said, 'No, you misunderstand. There are wolves and bears. Also, many wild dogs roaming out there at night.'
"After eating supper, I opened my guide book and learned that sure enough, this region has the highest concentration of wolves, bears and feral dogs in all of Europe. However, I could hear a storm brewing (yes, really) and suddenly I was worried the ground would be soaking wet the next day. I only had a few days in Romania and this would ruin my opportunity to collect this specimen. So, I decided to climb the cliff below the castle where nothing could reach me.
"In retrospect, I suppose I am lucky to be alive, but I did learn though that while very difficult the fortress is not impossible to reach in this manner... Even when one forgets their headlamp.
"The next day I used the stairs, but of course, it was beautiful and everything was dry by the afternoon."
FRONT OF SPECIMEN CARD
BACK OF SPECIMEN CARD
Stoker, Bram. Dracula: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Reviews and Reactions, Dramatic and Film Variations, Criticism. Edited by Nina Auerbach and David J. Skal, W.W. Norton, 1997.
Florescu, Radu R., and Raymond T. McNally. Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times. Hachette Digital, Inc., 2009.
Pettersen, L. and Baker, M.. Lonely Planet Romania. Lonely Planet Publications, 2010
Hovi, Tuomas. “The Use of History in Dracula Tourism in Romania.” Folklore (14060957), vol. 57, June 2014, pp. 55–78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7592/FEJF2014.57.hovi.
Rezachevici, Constantin "Punishment with Vlad Tepes - Punishments in Europe Common and Differentiating Traits," Journal of Dracula Studies: Vol. 8 , Article 4, 2006.