Watt Cottage named as ‘Hidden Gem’

James Watt's Cottage at Kinneil Estate, Bo'ness

The James Watt Cottage at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness has been named as one of Scotland’s heritage “Hidden Gems”.

It follows an online poll by the heritage body Dig It! 2017.

The Watt Cottage was built in 1769. It was used as a workshop by inventor James Watt to secretly develop world-changing improvements to the steam engine with patron Dr John Roebuck, co-founder of the Carron Iron Works.

Dig It! 2017 encouraged people to “like” on pictures on Facebook to cast their votes to finalise the winners of its poll.

The Watt Cottage was among the top six winners (coming fourth, with nearly 900 votes). All six sites will now be rewarded with public events this autumn.

With over 2,000 votes, the Govan Stones was the most popular site. The collection consists of 31 medieval stones carved in the Viking era, including carved crosses and five Viking hogback stones.

Other winners, in order, were:

  • Ardrossan Castle, North Ayrshire – 2nd
  • The Howff, Dundee – 3rd
  • James Watt Cottage, Bo’ness – 4th
  • Campbeltown Picture House, Argyll & Bute – 5th
  • Lincluden Collegiate Church, Dumfries & Galloway – 6th

Dig It! 2017 organised the poll as part of the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in Scotland. It had previously celebrated Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites in April and wanted to turn its attention to find six “lesser-known” sites.

Dr Jeff Sanders, Dig It! 2017 Project Manager, said: “We’ve been thrilled by the reaction to the Hidden Gems campaign. The people who nominated the sites have put an enormous amount of time and effort into the promotion and it’s been great to see members of the public respond with equal enthusiasm – whether they’re sharing childhood memories or discovering a site for the first time.”

Marie Christie, Head of Development, VisitScotland Events Directorate, said: “From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is the time to explore Scotland’s fascinating past. Following the success of Scotland in Six, celebrating World Heritage Day, it is great to see the overwhelming response from voters who are proud to support some of Scotland’s ‘lesser known’ sites. These hidden gems highlight our rich and diverse history and we are looking forward to the events planned for Scottish Archaeology Month in September.”

The six winning Hidden Gems sites are now preparing to mark their victory with six events during Scottish Archaeology Month in September.

The Friends of Kinneil charity – which has heavily promoted the Watt Cottage – said it was delighted at the building’s success in the poll. Details on the Watt Cottage event will be publicised here in due course.