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Friends chair on funding boost for Antonine Wall

kinneilfortlet850wide.jpgA £2.1 million project to raise the profile of the Roman Antonine Wall – which runs through Kinneil and across central Scotland – has secured £980,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

HLF is also giving just nearly £1.2 million to help a sister project on Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

Ian Shearer, Chair of the Friends of Kinneil, said: “This is very good news for the Antonine Wall and for the areas along it as a whole. The proposed projects will give added focus to this World Heritage site, help attract more visitors and improve educational resources for the next generation to learn about the ancient Roman frontier heritage of Central Scotland.

“Since 2006 we’ve done as much as any volunteer group to promote the Wall – we started Big Roman Week, for example. The replica Bridgeness Slab was another inspirational project by dedicated Bo’ness community members. So it is inevitably discouraging that none of the main capital projects under this announcement are coming to Kinneil or Bo’ness. Across the heritage sector, the best volunteers aren’t going to feel rewarded – or that it is fair – when other places, with perhaps less voluntary commitment, have more public heritage provision laid on.

“However, we’re pleased that Falkirk Community Trust is actively seeking separate funding for a new play trail at Kinneil. We’re also committed to working constructively with the Trust, Historic Environment Scotland and other partners to seek priority for Kinneil for future investment, to raise its unique multiple layers of 2,000 years of internationally-important heritage to the full potential it fairly deserves.”

Emma McMullen, Antonine Wall HLF Project Manager, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support our £2.1m Rediscovering the Antonine Wall project over the next three years.  This will give us the opportunity to work with communities along the length of the Wall to better engage them with their Roman heritage, along with creating facilities that will help to promote the Antonine Wall to visitors.  The funding will also allow us to work with colleagues at Hadrian’s Wall and the German Limes to share ideas.”

Pictured above: the remains of the Roman fortlet at Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness.

Talk: What Geoff did last summer …



Join The Friends of Kinneil for a free history talk about Kinneil Estate on Wednesday, October 10.

Historian and archaeologist Geoff Bailey (pictured) from Falkirk Community Trust will tell of his summer excavation work within the Bo’ness park.

Geoff and his team found evidence of ancient structures on the dig (perhaps another castle beside Kinneil House).

Come along and find out more.

The event will be held in the hall of St. Mary’s Church, off Linlithgow Road, Bo’ness, with a 7 for 7.30 p.m. start time. The postcode is EH51 0DP.

The event has been organised for Friends of Kinneil members; however, non-members are welcome to join this free event. If you have queries, please email:

Free talk on the Antonine Wall

The Friends of Kinneil group is supporting a free talk in Bo’ness Library as part of the Big Roman Week festival.

Historian Geoff Bailey will present “The Buildings in the Antonine Wall Forts”. The event will take place from 2 p.m. in large upstairs room at the library on Thursday, September 20.

Tickets are available from the library in advance, or on the day. There will also be refreshments at the event. Call the library on 01506 778520.

The library is in Scotland’s Close, Bo’ness, within Bo’ness Town Centre. The postcode is EH51 0AH.

Watch Geoff talk about the Antonine Wall in this archive video ….

Fancy a Foreshore walk?

The charity TCV Scotland is running a walk and forage event on the Kinneil Foreshore/Nature Reserve in Bo’ness on Friday, September 28.

Anyone interested can book places via Eventbrite.

Attendees will be collecting samples of the superfood Seabuckthorn – which grows in abundance on the foreshore. The berries can be turned into juices and syrups.

The organisers say: “We will try our hand at making some tasty treats in this beautiful setting.”



Celebrate Autumn Equinox with pizza

Hot summer days are a mere memory … and the Autumn Equinox is on its way this weekend.

To celebrate, a range of partners have joined forces to run a special event in the walled garden/council nursery at Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness, this Saturday, September 22.

The “Biochar Equinox” event aims to raise the profile of the work of Sustainable Thinking Scotland CIC which is turning waste wood from the Estate into a “soil amendment” or soil conditioner (used to help new things grow). More about “Biochar” here.

Organisers will be telling you more about the process, and serving up pizza to attendees. If you’d be interested in attending and finding out more, please contact Sarah Fraser at Forth Environment Link on 07732 839 886.

She said: “Anyone interested in learning more about this … come along and see the (Sustainable Thinking Scotland) setup, while we eat pizza and celebrate Equinox 🌳🔥🍕


Council considers Trust’s future


The future of Falkirk Community Trust – which manages Kinneil Museum and the surrounding Kinneil Estate – will be discussed by members of Falkirk Council this week.

Earlier this year, councillors ordered an “options appraisal” of the charity.

An initial report will be considered at a full council meeting this Wednesday (September 19), starting at 9.30 a.m. in the Municipal Buildings in Falkirk.  Members of the public can attend the meeting.

The Council report admits: “There are challenges to be worked on in the current arrangements around communication, relationships and trust.”

You can download a full copy of the report here (PDF).

It is expected that audio of the debate will be available online after the meeting.

The Trust was set up by the Council in 2011. Read a BBC report here.

As well as Kinneil Museum and Estate, the Trust also manages Bo’ness Town Hall, Bo’ness Recreation Centre, Bo’ness Library and the historic Hippodrome Cinema – as well as other strategic parks and leisure facilities across the Falkirk Council area.

It has previously been the subject of a review by the Council and has attracted criticism from some members of the Council.


Go Roman! Family fun at Kinneil


A family heritage day is taking place at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness this Saturday, September 15, 2018.

Historic Kinneil House will be open for FREE tours from noon (last admission 3.30 p.m.)

There will also be Roman-themed activities in the grounds from 1-4 p.m. Most of events are free, although there may be a small charge for some activities to cover costs.

The open afternoon has been organised by The Friends of Kinneil charity, in association with Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust.

Kinneil House – built on the line of the Roman Antonine Wall – boasts amazing painted rooms and was once home to the powerful Hamilton family. Volunteer guides will be on hand to give tours every 15-20 minutes, leaving from Kinneil Museum.

There are limited numbers on each tour – so arrive in good time to avoid disappointment. More on the House tours here.

In the surrounding parkland:

  • The Antonine Guard re-enactment group will be setting up camp near Kinneil Museum and putting on displays of military activities from nearly two thousand years ago.
  • Author Mike Nicholson will be entertaining younger children in Kinneil Museum from 2-3 p.m. One of his “Museum Mystery Squad” books focuses on “The Case of the Roman Riddle”.
  • Children will be able to try fun archery sessions (50p for five goes). Every child taking part will get an Antonine Wall pencil.
  • Children – and adults – will be able to try on Roman-themed outfits at a dressing up stall.
  • Youngsters will also be able to decorate a Roman crown and sword (£1 charge per person) at a craft stall.
  • Falkirk District Wargames Club will be on hand to let anyone play a Roman-themed table top war game, using miniature figures.
  • In the Estate’s orchard, behind the Museum, families can take part in free activities to find out about the site’s biodiversity.
  • There will also be fundraising stalls, food and refreshments.

Ian Shearer from The Friends of Kinneil said: “It should be a great afternoon.

“Kinneil House tours are always busy and I’d recommend getting along earlier in the afternoon to secure a tour ticket. Sadly, we can’t take pre-booking for tours before each open day – but the Museum will be open from noon on Saturday to issue tickets and organise tours.

“The Museum will also host author Mike Nicholson, whose books are popular with primary school pupils. Mike will be at the Museum from 2 p.m. Details and tickets for this are available at the museum.”

He added: “Outside, in the grounds, there will be lots of activities for local families.

“The Antonine Guard will be setting up camp. They are a brilliant living history group that takes you right back to Roman times. We’ll also have displays from Falkirk District Wargames Club – making a return visit to the Estate – as well as a dressing-up stall, craft sessions and fundraising stalls.

“We’re also delighted that Falkirk Community Trust is supporting the event by having a free event for families in the orchard behind the Museum.

“Admission to the House and Estate will be free of charge – so come along. And remember to bring a camera to get shots of the re-enactment people!”

Saturday’s event is supporting Scottish Archaeology Month, Doors Open Days in Scotland and the local Big Roman Week festival. It’s also the penultimate Friends’ open event of 2018: things conclude with Hallowe’en themed tours of Kinneil House at the end of October.

For more details please visit and







Doors Open at Kinneil House . . .

arbourroom-interior300dpi-rgb.jpgVisitors will get a chance to see inside historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness this Saturday (September 15).

The mansion – dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries – will be open for free tours to support the national Doors Open Days festival and the local Big Roman Week.

There will be Roman activities in the surrounding Kinneil Estate during the afternoon. The Estate includes the remains of a Roman fortlet.

Kinneil House boasts some of the best Renaissance wall paintings in Scotland, and was built along the line of the Roman Antonine Wall.

Anyone wanting to go on a tour inside the House should visit Kinneil Museum – the red-roofed building in front of Kinneil House. Tickets and allocated tour times will be available on the day from the Museum. The first tours will be at noon – and thereafter every 15 minutes or so, with the last admission at 3.30 p.m.



WHEN: Open days usually take place around eight times a year. See the homepage of the Kinneil site – – for the latest dates. Normally there are no tours inside the House over the winter months (November to February) – however the Museum IS open during throughout the year.

HOW: For 2018, 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. There may also be other refreshments on sale during special events. If you want a meal, you can find cafes and restaurants around Bo’ness.

OTHER THINGS TO SEE: The museum offers displays and maps about the surrounding Estate, which also boasts a Roman fortlet and the ruins of a medieval church. There is also a wealth of other attractions in Bo’ness.

DIRECTIONS: The postcode is EH51 0PR.