Visit Kinneil House in 2018


  • New series of open days gets underway on March 24
  • Longer opening hours to meet growing demand for access
  • New-style timed tours, leaving from neighbouring Kinneil Museum

It boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland. It was home to one of the most noble families in the country, the Hamiltons. And it’s opening its doors again in 2018.

Historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness – which dates back the late 15th century – is staging a series of free open days this year, starting on Saturday, March 24.

The events will include appearances from costumed interpreters and entertainers – from Romans to Renaissance singers (and even modern-day Rangers). There will also be extended opening hours to deal with growing visitor numbers.

The tours have been organised by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in conjunction with volunteers from the award-winning Friends of Kinneil charity.

Maria Ford from The Friends said: “Kinneil is a wonderful old building with an amazing history. Our open days aim to bring the site alive with a range of themed experiences, tying into local and national festivals such as Festival of Museums and Doors Open Days.

“All of the tours are free of charge – and there’s no need to book in advance. We’ll allocate places on the day. So, come along on the open days and we’ll show you inside!”

This year, the Friends will run timed tours leaving from Kinneil Museum (in front of the House). These will leave every 15 minutes – up until the last tour, which will be 30 minutes before closing time.

The open days will take place on:

(Click on hyperlinks above for more info.)

Tours will start at noon each day – and run until 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) – with the exception of the evening opening on May 18, when the House will be open from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. (with the last admission at 7 p.m.)

Please note that, for safety reasons, numbers on tours are restricted.

Maria said: “Last year, thanks to an investment by Historic Environment Scotland, new areas of the House were opened to the public: extra rooms within the ‘Palace’ section and a viewing platform within the oldest area, the original Tower House.

“Interest in the building grew substantially, with 2,498 people visiting in just eight days in 2017. By comparison, the same number of events in 2016 attracted 1,763 people.”

The first event on March 24 has been organised to tie with the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival – http://www.hippfest.co.uk – running at the nearby Bo’ness Hippodrome, Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema.

“With lots of visitors coming to the town for the Festival, we thought it was a good idea to open Kinneil House at the same time,” said Maria. “The March 24 afternoon opening will allow Festival-goers the chance to have a quick tour of this wonderful building and then go to the movies later in the day. Like the Hippodrome, the House is an A-listed building and a magnificent place to visit.”

Kinneil House is on the John Muir Way – one of Scotland’s Great Trails.

As part of a series of events to tie in with John Muir’s birthday, the House will be open on Sunday, April 22. A costumed interpreter will also be on hand to entertain visitors.

For the Scottish Festival of Museums and the UK’s Museums at Night celebrations in May, Kinneil House will be opening at night – on Friday, May 18. There will also be events and free goodie bags at Kinneil Museum next door – and a bat hunt in the grounds of the big house.

A second Festival of Museums event will be held on Sunday, May 20, with Historic Environment Scotland’s Rangers taking visitors around the surrounding Kinneil Estate, which includes ponds, woodland and a cottage used by inventor James Watt.

June will see Bo’ness get dressed up for its annual Children’s Fair Festival. Kinneil House – an early location for the festival – will open the Sunday before the Fair, on June 24. There are also plans to bring another costumed interpreter to the site.

There will also be an open event on Sunday, August 26, with performances from renaissance singers The Gargoyles of Gargunnock. The HES Rangers will also be back to do Estate tours.




In September, the House – and its wider estate – will be the focus for Big Roman Week, a festival celebrating Falkirk district’s Roman roots. A full programme of events will be revealed later this year – but The Big Roman Day, with appearances by the Antonine Guard re-enactment group, will be at Kinneil on September 15.

The 2018 programme will end with a Hallowe’en themed opening at Kinneil House on Sunday, October 28. The House is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a white lady.

Malcolm Brown, the District Visitor Operations Manager at Historic Environment Scotland’s Linlithgow Hub, said: “We’re looking forward to the new season at Kinneil.

“We had a great response to opening new sections of the House last year, and also improved the visitor experience with the addition of new lighting and interpretation within the building.

“This year, the Friends will take tours from Kinneil Museum. So, if you do have to wait for access, you’ll be able to enjoy the other attractions in the museum itself. Hopefully, there will be no more queuing outside!

“As ever, the House tours are free of charge and will offer a variety of experiences throughout the year. Look out for costumed interpreters, themed events and walks in the grounds.”

He added: “Although you can tour the grounds of Kinneil House throughout the year, you can only see inside the building on these special open days. We hope that families from across Scotland – and further afield – will pay a visit to Kinneil this year.”

Falkirk Community Trust is opening Kinneil Museum at additional times to tie in with Kinneil House open events.

For more information on open days click http://www.kinneil.org.uk or pick up a leaflet from libraries and local tourist attractions in the Falkirk Council area.

History fans can also keep in touch with updates through social media at www.facebook.com/kinneil and www.twitter.com/kinneil

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The Friends of Kinneil was set up in 2006 to promote Kinneil Estate and Nature Reserve in Bo’ness. The charity organises Kinneil House open days and other events for members and visitors. (No. SC038368). The group won a Scottish Heritage Angel Award in 2016. To find out more, visit http://www.kinneil.org.uk

Falkirk Community Trust manages Kinneil Museum and the surrounding Kinneil Estate on behalf of Falkirk Council. It also operates the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness town centre and runs the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (running this year from Wednesday, March 21 to Sunday, March 25, 2018). Find out more at falkirkcommunitytrust.org – or go directly to the Festival page: http://www.hippfest.co.uk

Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together in 2015 to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body, Historic Environment Scotland (HES), leads on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time. The body cares for Kinneil House using the existing Historic Scotland brand. Historic Environment Scotland is a registered Scottish Charity. Scottish Charity No. SC045925. You can keep up to date with news from Historic Environment Scotland and register for media release email alerts at https://www.historicenvironment.scot/about-us/news/

More on the history of Kinneil House on the HES website – http://j.mp/2GxRqmY

Images of Kinneil House and Estate are available on request. Email: info@kinneil.org.uk

Media organisations can also download images (free for editorial use) from

Kinneil House and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904 and A993, and are part of the Frontiers of The Roman Empire World Heritage Site. The John Muir Way also runs through the site. For satellite navigation devices, use the postcode EH51 0PR.

Media enquiries: tel. 01506 823714 or 01506 510629; email: info@kinneil.org.uk . More contact details at kinneil.org.uk/friends

The Friends of Kinneil is a registered charity
Charity Registration Number : SC038368
Email us: info@kinneil.org.uk