Category Archives: friends

Stirlingshire singers to appear at historic Kinneil House

The Gargoyles of GargunnockRenaissance singers will entertain crowds at historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness this month.

The Gargoyles of Gargunnock group will appear as part of a free open day.

Visitors can step inside the mansion – and enjoy the music – from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 27. The event has been organised by the charities The Friends of Kinneil and Historic Environment Scotland.

Maria Ford from The Friends said: “We’re delighted to welcome the Gargoyles back to Kinneil this August. They specialise in Renaissance and medieval music and seem a perfect fit for the House, which dates back to the 15th century and boasts some of the best Renaissance wall paintings in Scotland.”

She added: “The group have appeared at the House over the past few seasons and have been a real hit with visitors. We’re hoping for similar success on August 27.

“Entry to the House, and to enjoy the music, will be free of charge. The last admission to the building will be 3.30 p.m. on Sunday, August 27 – so don’t be late. It will be worth coming along!”

The event will see more of the House opened to the public. Historic Environment Scotland has installed a new viewing platform in the central “Tower” section of the House to allow regular visitor access to this area for the first time.

VisitScotland’s “Coo Van” will also be in the surrounding Kinneil Estate, giving free tourist information and advice to visitors. Kinneil Museum will also be open.

Helen Rowell from the Gargoyles of Gargunnock said: “It’s great to return to Kinneil.”
The group formed in 2004 as an amateur acapella folk group.

Helen – with her fellow group members Zoe Fouracre and Elizabeth Wilkinson – says the Gargoyles are “wandering minstrels”. The ladies – who don period outfits for performances – are based in the picturesque village of Gargunnock, around four miles from Stirling.

Helen said: “We became medieval singers by accident when we agreed to perform at the Border Reivers Festival in Hawick and then discovered it was a period dress event! Since then we have sung to thousands of people at many festivals and events throughout Scotland.”

She added: “We sing songs from 13th to 17th centuries – about love and war, drinking and lust, religion and nature.

“We have sung in venues from palaces to battlefields, from old folks’ homes to community centres, from pubs to chapels and from kirks to beer tents. We research and make our own outfits and have a range from the early through late medieval and Renaissance periods.”

After the Kinneil event on August 27, the Gargoyles will perform at Cambuskenneth Abbey’s Open Day on Sunday, September 17 – and at Early Music Day at St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh on October 28. Then there will be preparations for Christmas.

Helen said the past year has been very busy for the group.

“We finished the 2016 season with two fund-raising concerts, one in Cupar and one at the Smith Art Gallery in Stirling, then sang at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow before it closed for its refurbishment,” she said.

“We then started our Christmas charity appearances, three times at the Woodhouse Café in Kippen, and at Stirling farmer’s Market.”

Singing takes the three women across Scotland.

“Our 2017 summer season started in Peebles with the Traquair Medieval Festival weekend in May,” said Helen. “Then we sang for the Town Break Friendship Group in Braehead at the Rural Carers’ Group in Callander.

“If you are planning an event, and are interested in having the Gargoyles perform, then please contact us through our website.”

To find out more about Kinneil House open days, please visit

You can also get updates via social media at and

To find out more about the Gargoyles of Gargunnock, visit:

The Gargoyles of Gargunnock are pictured. From left, Helen Rowell, Zoe Fouracre and Liz Wilkinson.


  • Kinneil House, Museum 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. For directions, click here
  • The John Muir Way also runs through the site. For satellite navigation devices, use the postcode EH51 0PR. Images of Kinneil House and Estate are available on request. Email:
  • You can access a video of the Gargoyles of Gargunnock singing at Kinneil at

Find out what’s Watt at Kinneil House

jameswatt-fromvictorianbook1Historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness is open for free tours this Sunday afternoon (June 25).

A costumed interpreter will be on hand to tell visitors about the mansion’s links with the Scots inventor James Watt.

History fans can tour the inside of the building between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, with the last admission at 3.30 p.m. The House boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland.

The open event has been organised by the charity The Friends of Kinneil in association with Historic Environment Scotland.

A Friends spokesman said: “James Watt did early work to develop an improved steam engine at Kinneil House.

“We’re delighted Historic Environment Scotland are bringing a costumed interpreter to the site on Sunday to raise the profile of Watt’s time at Kinneil and his work in the small workshop at the back of the House.

“Our volunteers will also be on hand to show to take tours around the building, including the amazing painted rooms on the first floor. We’ll also be showing off ‘new’ sections of the House, opened to the public for the first time this year. Admission will be free of charge.”

Kinneil House is located within Kinneil Estate, a park on the western edge of Bo’ness. The House open event coincides with the second day of the Estate’s annual sale of bedding plants and flowers.

Kinneil Museum, next to the House, will also be open.

For more information on Kinneil open days please visit



For directions to Kinneil House, please visit our map page

Friends get to the art of the matter

As part of its support for Festival of Museums 2017, The Friends of Kinneil charity set up a pop-up art studio outside Kinneil Museum on Sunday.

Youngsters visiting the Museum and neighbouring Kinneil House got busy making wonderful creations. Pictures from the art session are included below. Just click any of them to see a larger version.

A big thanks to Val Lee for the pictures – and to Yvonne McBlain and all the volunteers who made Festival of Museums at Kinneil such a success.



Two chances for free tours inside Kinneil House


Heritage fans will get two opportunities to tour a historic mansion for free this weekend.

Kinneil House in Bo’ness is running an open evening on Friday night (May 19), followed by an open afternoon on Sunday (May 21).

The events have been organised to support activities for the Festival of Museums and the Museums at Night festival, taking place at neighbouring Kinneil Museum.

Visitors will be able to see inside the mansion – which boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. (last admission 7 p.m.) on Friday – and then from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) on Sunday.

Kinneil House is the centrepiece of Kinneil Estate, a historic park on the western edge of Bo’ness.

Volunteers from the charity The Friends of Kinneil run tours inside the House on special open days, working in association with Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust.

For more information, visit




Fun for all the family during Festival of Museums

IMG_4066 (1)Families are set to flock to local heritage sites as one of Scotland’s biggest cultural festivals gets underway.

Kinneil House and Museum in Bo’ness, the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway and Callendar House in Falkirk are just some of the attractions taking part in this year’s Festival of Museums.

Organisers say the Scotland-wide event is the biggest ever. It kicks off on Friday, May 19 and runs until Sunday, May 21.

The festival aims to encourage more people to visit local cultural bases and see what they have to offer.

Kinneil House and Museum is supporting the initiative with two free events – one of the evening of Friday, May 19, and a second on the afternoon of Sunday, May 21.

The open evening promises a “bat walk” – searching for the creatures who roost in Kinneil House – plus House tours, quizzes in Kinneil Museum and free goody bags.

The Museum will be open from 6-9 p.m. on May 19, with the neighbouring House running tours between 6 and 7.30 p.m. (last House admission 7 p.m.). Anyone interested in the bat/nature walk should be at the Museum for 8.30 p.m. Children must be accompanied.

A second event takes place on Sunday, May 21. Kinneil House will be open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) There will be arts and crafts activities for children – and more goody bags at the museum (while stocks last). Plus a car from Bo’ness Motor Museum and classic cars from the Bo’ness Hill Climb will be visiting the site for the afternoon event.

There will also be a pop-up café in the museum on both days.

Adrian Mahoney from The Friends of Kinneil – helping to organise the events – said: “We hope lots of local people will support these Festival of Museum activities. We’ve been working closely with Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust to deliver our 2017 programme. New areas of Kinneil House have gone on show this year and we’ll also showcasing recent improvements at Kinneil Museum. Come along and support these facilities. Admission is free of charge.”

He added: “We’d also like to thank Falkirk Council’s Ranger service who will be delivering the bat/nature walk around the park on Friday night. Hopefully, we get good weather and we see lots of bats!

“For more information – and updates – please check our website

Callendar House in Falkirk is supporting the Festival of Museums with a new exhibition recreating part of the Roman Antonine Wall, which ran from Bo’ness to Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow.

The exhibition, launching on Saturday, May 20, will feature a splendid griffin figurine, that provided the crest of a Roman cavalry helmet, found at Polmont.

The Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway is taking on a Victorian air for its Festival of Museums event on Sunday, May 21. A punch and judy show, brass rubbing, and performances from Victorian-style volunteers have been promised.

Organisers say the local activities are some of the 120 plus events being delivered this year for Festival of Museums around Scotland. Evening events also support the UK’s Museums at Night Festival, running over the same weekend.

The Scottish co-ordinators, Museums Galleries Scotland, says the 2017 programme caters to all ages and interests and includes everything from historical re-enactments and night-time murder mysteries to children’s storytelling and arts and crafts.

Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “Festival of Museums is about igniting imaginations and celebrating creativity whilst showcasing Scotland’s wealth of culture and heritage. Our packed programme features engaging, surprising and entertaining events over three action-packed days in museums across Scotland. Get involved and come and see what Scotland’s museums have to offer.”

For a full programme of events, please visit

festival_of_museums (1)




Discover the Duchess at Kinneil this Sunday

3kinneilhouseinsummer-rgb-300dpi.jpgA costumed interpreter will entertain crowds at historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness this Sunday (April 23, 2017).

There will also be free tours of the mansion between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) The property, the centrepiece of Kinneil Estate, boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland.

The open afternoon has been organised by the charities The Friends of Kinneil and Historic Environment Scotland.

The costumed interpreter will tell visitors about Anne, the 3rd Duchess of Hamilton – one of the key people involved in the development of Kinneil House.

Adrian Mahoney from The Friends of Kinneil said: “We hope lots of people will come along to the House on Sunday afternoon.

“Our volunteers will be on hand to tell the building’s fascinating story and show off the wonderful wall paintings. We’re also allowing people to see more of the building in 2017 – so if you’ve been before, come back and see areas previously not open to the public.

“With the support of Historic Environment Scotland, a costumed interpreter has been organised to tell visitors about Anne, Duchess of Hamilton. She’ll be performing throughout the afternoon – and we’re sure her visit will prove popular with visitors. Doors open at 1 p.m. Please note the last admission is 3.30 p.m. – so don’t be late. Neighbouring Kinneil Museum will also be open.

“Best of all, admission to the House and the Museum – and to see the costumed interpreter – is free of charge. You don’t need to book, just turn up – although children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.”


Anne, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, was an impressive and influential character. She and her husband William were responsible for the major expansion of Kinneil House in the late 17th century. This saw the original 15th century tower house adjoined to the nearby palace building by means of one of two decorative towers, flanking the original tower house.

Sunday’s open day is one of a series of events taking place this week along the John Muir Way, which runs 134 miles across Scotland (and right past the House).

The coast-to-coast version of the Way was officially launched three years ago and brings many visitors to Kinneil Estate and the wider Falkirk Council area.

Amy Mack, Regional Tourism and Community Manager for Historic Environment Scotland, said: “Although you can tour the grounds of Kinneil House throughout the year, you can only see inside the building on special open days. We hope that families from across Scotland – and further afield – will pay a visit to Kinneil this year.”

Other Kinneil House open days will take place on:

  • Friday, May 19, 2017 (6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.);
  • Sunday, May 21, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.);
  • Sunday, June 25, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.);
  • Sunday, August 27, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.);
  • Saturday, September 16, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.); and
  • Sunday, October 29, 2017 (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.).

The last admission is 30 minutes before the stated closing times.

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



  1. 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 last year. To find out more, visit
  2. Falkirk Community Trust manages Kinneil Museum and the surrounding Kinneil Estate on behalf of Falkirk Council. Find out more at
  3. 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
  4. For image requests, email:
  5. 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.
  6. Media enquiries: tel. 01506 823714 or 01506 510629; email: . More contact details at

Great events on the John Muir Way at Kinneil

2017 JMC logo COLOUR portrait eps v2 100317Walkers and history fans are being urged to explore the John Muir Way this April, with a series of events across the 134-mile route.

In Bo’ness, there’s a walk from Kinneil to Blackness Castle and back. There will also be a free open day at Kinneil House, with a costumed interpreter organised to take people back to the 17th century.

The events are being held around the birthday of John Muir, the Scots naturalist and explorer, who was born on April 21, 1838.

They also coincide with the third anniversary of the opening of the coast-to-coast John Muir Way, which launched in 2014, and which runs through the Bo’ness and Kinneil areas.

The Friends of Kinneil charity has organised a “Walk along the Way” on Saturday, April 22. The guided walk will take in Kinneil Nature Reserve and the stunning views along the Forth from Carriden and Blackness beaches. The trek (six miles each way, a total of 12 miles round trip) will leave from outside Kinneil House/Museum at 1 p.m. on April 22. There’s no need to book, although children must be accompanied.

For more information, click

Friends volunteers are also teaming up with Historic Environment Scotland to run a free open day at Kinneil House the following day – on Sunday, April 23. There will be free tours around the mansion from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) A costumed interpreter will also be on hand to tell visitors about Anne, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, one of the building’s best known residents, who was instrumental in developing the imposing House and its stunning Estate.

Kinneil Museum will also be open.

Please note that Kinneil House will only be open for the Sunday event.

Other John Muir events are also taking place around the country. See for details.


At both the walk and open day, The Friends will be running free draws for copies of the John Muir Way guidebook, produced by Rucksack Readers. We have four copies, worth £11.99 each, to give away. To be in with a chance of winning a copy, come along to either event – or both! Thanks to Central Scotland Green Network and John Muir Way partners for their support.

For updates, see social media at and


You can walk along the John Muir Way with The Friends of Kinneil on April 22. More at


See inside Kinneil House and meet a Duchess at the open day on April 23. More on Kinneil open days at  and 

Orchard event at Kinneil on April 1

apples2.jpgA VOLUNTEER event is being run at the new Kinneil orchard – located right behind Kinneil Museum in Bo’ness.

The event takes place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 1. Anyone interested in finding out more about the orchard and helping out should come along.

The event has been organised by Falkirk Community Trust with the support of The Friends of Kinneil.

Ian Shearer from The Friends said: “If you are free on Saturday 1st April between 11am and 1pm why not pop round to the back of Kinneil Museum and find out more?

“We’ll be checking the trees to make sure they are healthy, putting down mulch mats to protect against weeds and carrying out some very light pruning.

“The activity is free and suitable for everyone aged six and above. Please wear sensible outdoor clothing and shoes.

“Feel free to pass this on to anyone else who you think may be interested.”

More on the event is on Facebook. Feel free to share the links.

Ian added: “!Thanks to everyone for their support, and look forward to seeing some of you there.”

Do a House call at Kinneil this Saturday


One of Falkirk district’s most historic buildings is opening its doors for free tours this weekend.

Kinneil House in Bo’ness – which boasts amazing renaissance wall paintings – will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 19, 2016 (last admission 11.30 a.m.)

The open morning is to support the Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema, which is also taking place in the town this week.

Saturday’s event is one of eight open events at Kinneil in 2016. They have been organised by The Friends of Kinneil in association with Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust.

A Friends spokesperson said: “We’re looking forward to Saturday’s open morning. Hopefully lots of local people will come along. There’s no need to book tickets, just turn up – although children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Kinneil Museum will also be open from 10 a.m. to support the House event.”

The House is located within the historic Kinneil Estate, on the western edge of Bo’ness. More details are online at 

Leaflets are also available from local tourist offices and libraries.

James Watt Supper 2016

jameswatt-fromvictorianbook1The Friends of Kinneil charity will be hosting its annual James Watt Supper on Friday, January 15, 2016, at St. Mary’s Church Hall, off Linlithgow Road in Bo’ness.

The event – which is similar to a Burns’ Supper – starts at 7 p.m. and will feature a three course meal and entertainment.

Tickets are £10 for Friends of Kinneil members and £15 for non-members. To join The Friends, visit

It’s a bring your own bottle affair, although soft drinks will be provided. Historian and musician Ian Scott and his band will provide the music. There will also be “toasts” and readings about James Watt (rather than Burns!)

Watt did some of his early work at Kinneil Estate to develop the steam engine. His eventual discovery changed the world. Read more about Watt at Kinneil at 

This event is always popular, so book your tickets now.

Write to: Maria Ford, 16 Craigallan Park, Bo’ness, EH51 9QY


Please make any cheques payable to “The Friends of Kinneil”.

You can also call Maria on 01506 510629.


Soup starter

Choice of:

  • Scotch Broth
  • Carrot and Coriander
  • Potato and Leek

Crusty Bread / Butter


Main course – Salmagundi 

(A modern take on an old favourite. A mix of salad, fish, nuts and meat.)

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



Choice of:

  • Apple Pie
  • Clootie Dumpling
  • Cream – Custard
  • A Chocolate Steam Engine with Carriages. 


Tea/Coffee – Shortbread and Tablet

Map to venue: