Author Archives: Friends of Kinneil

See inside Kinneil House on March 23

kinneilhouse-boness-exterioraa.jpgHistory fans can get a peek inside historic Kinneil House, Bo’ness, on Saturday, March 23, 2019.

The Friends of Kinneil charity has teamed up with Historic Environment Scotland to run free tours inside the mansion, which dates back to the 16th century.

Tours will run from noon to 4 p.m., with the last admission at 3.30 p.m.

All tours will run from Kinneil Museum. You’ll be allocated a timed tour on the day, on a first-come, first served basis. Normally tours run every 15 to 20 minutes.

Please note, for safety reasons, there are restrictions on the number of people we can accommodate on each tour – and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

The event is being run to support the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, which is running in Bo’ness over the same weekend. 

Vintage silent movies of the Bo’ness Fair will also be on show in the museum through the afternoon.

Keep visiting this site and our social media feeds on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


Inside Kinneil House – Arbour Room


HOW: Book a timed tour of the House by visiting Kinneil Museum – the red-roofed building in front of the big mansion – on the day of the open day. Tours normally run every 15 minutes from noon, leaving from the museum and walking the short distance into the House. Last admission to the mansion is 3.30 p.m. Volunteer guides will be on hand to take the tours and to answer any questions. Additional volunteers are in the museum to help you. The Museum opens early around noon on open days (normally it opens at 12.30 p.m.).

COST: Admission to the House and the Museum is free of charge. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

ADVANCE TICKETS: Currently tour tickets are only available on the day from the museum. You can’t book tickets in advance or online. Numbers on each tour are limited for health and safety reasons.

ACCESS: The House is around 500 years old in parts – and doesn’t have a lift. Everyone can get access to the oldest section, the Tower House (albeit just to a platform inside the tower). For the Palace section, you have to go down a few stairs to reach the ground floor. There is also one flight of stairs up to the star attractions, the painted rooms. There are two further flights of stairs to displays on the top floor …. Neighbouring Kinneil Museum also has stairs; however, there is a ramped access to the ground floor and an accessible toilet. The Museum also has an iPad with images of rooms inside Kinneil House …. Key paths around the Estate are also accessible using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

PARKING: In front of the House and museum. If in doubt, ask one of the volunteers across the site.

PHOTOGRAPHY: No flash photography is allowed in the painted rooms at Kinneil.

REFRESHMENTS: A stall selling drinks and sweet treats is normally operational during open days. If you want a meal, you can find cafes and restaurants around Bo’ness. (Sorry – but you can’t take food or drinks into Kinneil House itself!)

OTHER THINGS TO SEE: The museum offers displays and maps about the surrounding Estate, which also boasts a Roman fortlet, the ruins of a medieval church and a cottage workshop used by inventor James Watt.

DIRECTIONS: The postcode is EH51 0PR.

QUERIES: Ask volunteers at the event, or email the Friends: 


The event on March 23, supports the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, taking place at the historic Hippodrome Cinema and other venues around Bo’ness.

Download the festival brochure

Hippfest brochure

Discover James Watt

The year 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of inventor James Watt – who did early work to develop the steam engine here at Kinneil.

A new website gives more information on the man and his legacy and highlights sites to visit, including Kinneil.

It’s been supported by a number of partners including Historic Environment Scotland.


Nearly 2000 visit Kinneil House in 2018

Nearly 2000 people visited Kinneil House in 2018 – over just eight open days.

Figures collated by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) show that 1951 people went on a tour inside the building over the past year.

HES worked with The Friends of Kinneil to run the open events, which were free of charge. They ran from March to October. Volunteer guides were on hand to show people amazing renaissance wall paintings and recount the building’s rich history.

The events have now ended for the year – however, neighbouring Kinneil Museum remains open throughout the winter months.

It is normally open every afternoon from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m., except Tuesdays.

Please note there will be some closures over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Arbour Room inside Kinneil House in Bo'ness

The Arbour Room inside Kinneil House in Bo’ness

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 – – 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 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 and

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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

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 – or go directly to the Festival page:

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

More on the history of Kinneil House on the HES website –

Images of Kinneil House and Estate are available on request. Email:

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: . More contact details at

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


See inside Kinneil House in 2018

The Friends of Kinneil and Historic Environment Scotland have finalised the dates for the 2018 open events at Kinneil House, Bo’ness.

The historic mansion will stage eight free events during the year.

Leaflets, giving more information, are available from venues around the Bo’ness area, including Kinneil Museum and Bo’ness Library.

The first event will take place on Saturday, March 24, from noon to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.)

Please note that House tours will take place every 15 minutes, leaving from the museum. You’ll get tickets and more information from volunteers within the museum.

The event has been organised to support the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival, taking place in Bo’ness that weekend. Silent movies will also be on show inside Kinneil Museum on March 24.

Read our press release on the 2018 season.

Keep visiting this site and the Friends of Kinneil on social media for updates.


All set for James Watt Supper

jameswatt-fromvictorianbook1The Friends of Kinneil charity is running its James Watt Supper in St. Mary’s Church Hall off Linlithgow Road, Bo’ness, this Friday, January 19.

The event celebrates the birthday of James Watt – the Scots inventor who did some of his early work to develop the steam engine at Kinneil. The event kicks off at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost £10 for members and £15 for non-members. Anyone interested in attending should email: or call 01506 510629.

The Friends will provide food and some non-alcoholic drinks. If you’d like an alcoholic drink, please bring it with you.

There will also be speeches and entertainment.

The menu for the event is printed below:

Scotch broth
Lentil Soup [vegetarian]
Crusty Bread / Butter

Mains – Salmagundi:
Steamed Salmon
Roast Rib of Beef
Honey & Clove Ham
Roast Chicken
Vintage Cheese Quiche
Prawns – Mussels – Crabsticks
Vegetable Stuffed Peppers
Cheese Slices
Variety of Potato Salads [Cheese – Coconut – Spring Onion]
Shredded Coleslaw
Vegetables in Mayonnaise
Dried Fruits – Dates – Walnuts – Sultanas
Shredded carrot
Lettuce – Tomato – Celery
Vegetable Pickles – Onions – Beetroot
Stuffed Eggs

James Watt birthday cake
Apple Pie
Steaming Clootie Dumpling
Cream – Custard


Shortbread and Homemade Tablet

Barbara: Why I love Kinneil …

Barbara McConnell (second from right) is the Step Forth co-ordinator for Falkirk Community Trust. The charity co-ordinates volunteer-led health walks at Kinneil Estate, three times a week.


Barbara says: “I love Kinneil Estate. It’s where I started my first walks as Step Forth walking co-ordinator.

“If ever I feel a little down or stressed I go down to Kinneil and have a lovely walk with my walk leaders.

“Kinneil is beautiful. There is always something to see.

“I was there with my Nordic walking group yesterday.

“The woods had a blanket of golden leaves and the colours on the trees were just beautiful.

“The pond was glittering in the sun (oh yes, there was sun!)

“It’s such a calm place and full of history. The (Kinneil) House is just stunning when you walk up the drive.

“Our group walked around the Estate then back to have a look in the museum.  There was so much to read and see it was very interesting. Go and have a look. It’s amazing.

” . . . And if you want a wee bit company, join our (Kinneil) walking groups, Mondays 10.30 a.m., Thursdays 10.30 a.m. and Tuesdays at 2 p.m. all from the front of the museum.”

Find out more about Kinneil health walks here.

Barbara's Nordic walking group explore Kinneil Woods.

Barbara’s Nordic walking group explore Kinneil Woods.

Audio: Kinneil House Experts’ Day


Archaeologists and historians have been working together, delving into documents and surveying Kinneil House. They presented their findings at a special Experts’ Day in Bo’ness on November 19.

You can listen to audio from the event by clicking the player links below.

The audio is also available on Soundcloud.

The speakers were:

Arkady Hodge


Arkady is an independent historian with a wide knowledge of medieval and later Scottish History.  He has undertaken many research projects on Historic Environment Scotland properties including Edinburgh Castle, Inchcolm Abbey and of course Kinneil House.  For this project, he trawled through archival material uncovering some previously overlooked documents which shed new light on how the 16th century Hamilton family saw themselves and how they furnished their house.

Tom Addyman


Tom is an archaeologist with particular skills in interpreting standing buildings.  He established Addyman Archaeology,  a division of Simpson and Brown Architects, which is now one of the leading archaeological companies in the north of Britain concerned with historic building, recording and analysis. He has undertaken building analysis for English Heritage at Bolsover Castle, and National Trust for Scotland at Culzean Castle and Historic Scotland at Queensberry House, part of the Scottish Parliament site.  His close examination of Kinneil House has helped revise the generally accepted story of its development.

Michael Pearce


Michael is an independent historian and expert in medieval and renaissance interiors, including painted decoration.  He has undertaken many research projects for Historic Environment Scotland including recent work on Craignethan Castle, which like Kinneil was built for a branch of the Hamilton family.  Michael’s particular expertise enables him to assess the painted decoration within the house and also share some fascinating details of how the family used the house, down to what was on their table for dinner!

Adrian Maldonado


Adrian is an archaeologist and Research Associate with the Glasgow Iona Research Group, University of Glasgow. He specialises in archaeology of the late Iron Age, early monasticism and medieval Christianity and has most recently been involved with a major project on the early monastic site at Iona Abbey. Adrian will talk about the unique Kinneil Cross, giving us some context and background for this very remarkable piece of sculpture.

Geoff Bailey


Geoff is Archaeologist & Keeper of Local History for Falkirk Community Trust.  He has an unparalleled knowledge of the Bo’ness area, and of Kinneil House in its wider context, including its relationship to the Antonine Wall and later settlements.  He has published widely on the history and archaeology of the area.  He brings this deep understanding to the project to talk about the designed landscape around Kinneil in its heyday.

The Experts’ Day was organised by Historic Environment Scotland (Charity Reg. No. SC045925) with the support of The Friends of Kinneil (Charity Reg. No. SC038368) and Falkirk Community Trust (Charity Reg. No. SC042403).


The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness – the main venue for the free community conference, exploring the history of Kinneil House.

Raise funds for Kinneil this Christmas

9TUCMMMDIJDid you know that whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be collecting free donations for The Friends of Kinneil?

There are over 3,000 shops and sites on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury’s – it doesn’t cost you a penny extra!

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

1. Head to and join for free.

2. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping.

3. After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost whatsoever!

There are no catches or hidden charges and The Friends of Kinneil will be really grateful for your donations.

Thank you for your support.

The Friends of Kinneil is a registered Scottish charity. Charity registration number: SC038368.

Visit Kinneil Museum

HISTORIC Kinneil Museum is located in the former coachhouse of the imposing Kinneil House, on the western edge of Bo’ness. The museum is open all year, normally every day except Tuesdays, from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The venue features displays on the history of Kinneil and the wider Bo’ness area, audio visual shows and interactive displays.

For details, visit the Falkirk Community Trust website, which runs the museum on behalf of Falkirk Council.

You’ll also find directions to the museum and the surrounding Kinneil Estate here.