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

Hallowe’en at Kinneil House: What you need to know

halloween2018Attending the 2018 Hallowe’en open day at Kinneil House (on Sunday, October 28)?

Here’s some essential information. You can also read our press release here.

WHEN: Open days usually take place around eight times a year. See the homepage of the Kinneil site – – for the 2018 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. Our Hallowe’en event is the last chance to see inside the House in 2018.

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.).

Please note that tour tickets can get snapped up BEFORE the last timed tour at 3.30 p.m. so arrive in good time to secure a tour. The Hallowe’en event is the last open day in 2018.

SPECIAL TOURS: For Hallowe’en most of the tours will have a spooky theme, talking about the ghost said to haunt the House and local people tried for witchcraft. We also have to have some “normal” tours, usually at 12.15 p.m., 1.15 p.m., 2.15 p.m. and 3.15 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. Normally there is also a hot food van selling treats in the ground outside Kinneil House. (Sorry – but you can’t take food or drinks into Kinneil House itself!)

FANCY DRESS: We’re asking youngsters to dress up for the Hallowe’en event, with the best dressed (in our opinion) winning a book token. To make sure your child is entered, ask to leave your details at the museum and get your child photographed at the Hallowe’en event. This will help us select a winner. Please note pictures may be used on our website or social media channels. If you’d rather we didn’t do this, let us know.

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.

DIRECTIONS: The postcode is EH51 0PR.

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

** Details are correct as of August 2018

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:

See inside spooky Kinneil House this Hallowe’en

Spooky Kinneil House in Bo’ness is opening its doors just before Hallowe’en.

The mansion, which dates back to the early 1500s, will be open for free tours on Sunday, October 28, 2018 from noon to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.)

Youngsters are being urged to turn up in fancy dress. The best-dressed child will win a book token.

Volunteers from The Friends of Kinneil charity will be on hand to telling chilling tales about the building’s past. The House is said to be haunted by the ghost of a White Lady.

The volunteer guides will also reveal how local people were tried for witchcraft in the Bo’ness area.

Visitor information: what you need to know

Kinneil House – which boasts its own internal gravestones (remnants from nearby Kinneil Churchyard) – was once home to the powerful Hamilton family.

The ancient building also features some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – and has links to characters such as James Watt and Mary, Queen of Scots.

The free open afternoon will be the last chance for people to see inside Kinneil House (the centrepiece of Kinneil Estate) in 2018. Open days are delivered by The Friends of Kinneil in association with Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust.

“Please note that we can only allow a certain amount of people in the main House at any one time, so make sure you get along in good time to secure your tour tickets – and certainly well before the 3.30 p.m. last tour.”


Ian Shearer, chair of The Friends of Kinneil, said: “The old house gets quite spooky at this time of year. In fact, you never know what you might discover!

“Hallowe’en open days are always popular at Kinneil and we’re encouraging people to come along to enjoy the seasonal fun. Children, particularly those in fancy dress, will be very welcome – with a prize for the best-dressed child. However, anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

“As well as spooky tours, we’ll also be running some ‘normal’ guided tours around the House on October 28.”

Kinneil Museum will also be open throughout the afternoon. The museum features relics dating back to Roman times, as well video displays and hands-on exhibits. There will also be a pop-up cafe, selling drinks and snacks.

Ian said: “Tickets for the House tours, and further information, will be available on the day in the museum. So, head there first. Please note that we can only allow a certain amount of people in the main House at any one time, so make sure you get along in good time to secure your tour tickets – and certainly well before the 3.30 p.m. last tour.”

* Kinneil House, Museum, and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness, just off the A993 (Dean Road) – the main road through Bo’ness. The postcode for the site is EH51 0PR. For maps, and more information, visit

You’ll also find updates on social media: and


Find out more about open days here.


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.