See inside historic mansion – and get free tour of surrounding estate

Kinneil House, Bo'ness
Kinneil House, Bo’ness

History fans are in for a treat.

Kinneil House in Bo’ness – which boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – is open for free tours this Saturday (June 27). The mansion dates back to the 15th century and was once home to the Dukes of Hamilton.

Historian Ian Scott will also be on hand to give free walking tours around the surrounding Kinneil Estate. The parkland includes the remains of a Roman Fortlet, part of the Antonine Wall; the ruins of a medieval church; plus a cottage workshop once used by Scots inventor James Watt.

Saturday’s house and estate tours have been organised by the charity The Friends of Kinneil in association with Historic Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust. The House will be open from noon to 3 p.m. (last admission 2.30 p.m.) Mr Scott’s tours will leave Kinneil Museum (next to the House) at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Museum will also be open to visitors.

The open afternoon has been arranged to tie in with Bo’ness Children’s Fair Festival, which is also taking place this weekend.

Maria Ford, The Friends of Kinneil
Maria Ford, The Friends of Kinneil

Maria Ford from The Friends of Kinneil said: “Kinneil House was an early location for the Fair, so it seems an appropriate time to stage a free open day.

“Visitors will be able to see the stunning wall paintings inside Kinneil House on Saturday afternoon. Volunteer guides will be on hand to give lots of information and tell people about this wonderful mansion and it’s amazing history.

“We’re also delighted that Ian Scott from Falkirk Local History Society has agreed to take people around the grounds, and tell people about the wider estate.

“There’s no need to book the House tours or the walks around the Estate – just turn up. Please note that the last admission to the House is 2.30 p.m. Walks will leave from Kinneil Museum at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“Kinneil Museum will also be open, allowing people to see its newly-revamped displays and a wonderful film about the Bo’ness Fair.

“I hope lots of people come along to Kinneil on Saturday – and have a great, free day out.”

Arbour Room, Kinneil House
Arbour Room, Kinneil House


Kinneil House is located on the western edge of Bo’ness, off the A993 (follow signs for Kinneil Estate and Museum).

Set in a public park, the oldest part of Kinneil House is a 15th century tower remodelled by the Earl of Arran between 1546 and 1550 and transformed into a stately home for the Dukes of Hamilton in the 1660s.

The family’s connections to Kinneil date back to 1323 when lands were granted by Robert I (Robert the Bruce) to Walter Fitzgilbert of Hamildon, the head of the family which later produced the Dukes of Hamilton.

The Hamiltons’ main seat was in west central Scotland but over the centuries Kinneil became their base in the east.

In the 1400s they built a small tower house here in an easily defensible position overlooking a ravine.

In the late 1400s or early 1500s the tower house was enlarged. In 1553 James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran, built a palace to the north east of the tower house to its north east. In 1667, William, 3rd Duke of Hamilton and his wife Anne launched a major expansion of Kinneil House. Within a century, however, the Hamiltons had ceased to use Kinneil, and rented it out to tenants.

In the 1920s, it was purchased by Bo’ness Town Council and remains in public ownership. In the 1930s, rare renaissance wall paintings were discovered – and the property was placed in the care of the Ministry of Works, now Historic Scotland.

A spokesperson for The Friends of Kinneil said: “Visitors can tour around the exterior of Kinneil House and visit the stunning grounds and museum throughout the year. However, they can only see inside the mansion during special free open days.”

To find out more, and get updates, please visit www.kinneil.org.uk – or stay in touch using social media: www.facebook.com/kinneil or www.twitter.com/kinneil



1. The Friends of Kinneil was set up in 2006 to promote Kinneil Estate and Foreshore in Bo’ness. The charity organises Kinneil House open days and other events for members and visitors. To find out more, visit http://www.kinneil.org.uk/friends

2. Falkirk Community Trust manages Kinneil Museum and the wider Kinneil Estate on behalf of Falkirk Council. Find out more at http://www.falkirkcommunitytrust.org/heritage

3.Historic Scotland, which cares for Kinneil House, is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk. Follow Historic Scotland on Twitter: @welovehistory and Facebook: www.facebook.com/visithistoricscotland

4. Images of Kinneil House and Estate are available on request. Email:publicity@kinneil.org.uk or download directly from http://bit.ly/kinneilpics

5. Kinneil House, Museum and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904 and A993. The Estate is part of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire World Heritage Site. For satellite navigation devices, use the postcode EH51 0PR. Find maps at http://www.kinneil.org.uk/map

6. In addition to the open day on June 27 there will be further 2015 open days at Kinneil House on

  • Saturday, August 29, 2015 (noon to 3 p.m.);
  • Saturday, September 19, 2015 (noon to 3 p.m.); and
  • Saturday, October 31, 2015 (noon to 3 p.m.).

The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity
Charity Registration Number : SC038368

Visit us online at: http://www.kinneil.org.uk
Email us: info@kinneil.org.uk