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.


History fans invited to free Kinneil event

kinneilhousefromborrowstounnessanddistrict1Historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness will come under the spotlight at a free conference this Sunday, November 19, 2017

The “Experts Day” will take place at the nearby Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness town centre. Members of the public are being invited to attend.

The event has been organised by Historic Environment Scotland and The Friends of Kinneil.

A spokesman for the organisers said: “Archaeologists and historians have been working together, delving into documents and surveying Kinneil House. Together they can shed more light on the building than ever before and paint a picture of how it was in its heyday. We’re encouraging anyone interested in Kinneil to come along to this free event and to hear from our guest speakers.”

Doors open at the Hippodrome at 10 a.m. on Sunday. To book a free ticket, visit or call 01506 823714. The ticket includes a snack lunch and further presentations in Bo’ness Library on Sunday afternoon.

The speakers will include:

  • Tom Addyman, discussing the archaeology of Kinneil House;
  • Arkady Hodge, on documentary history;
  • Michael Pearce, on inventories/reconstructing the interior;
  • Geoff Bailey, discussing the designed landscape and setting; and
  • Adrian Maldonado, talking about the Kinneil Cross (on display within the House).

To find out more about the speakers and the event visit


Built next to the Antonine Wall, Kinneil House was the chief seat of the powerful and wealthy Hamilton family. Subject to extensions and refurbishments over 300 years, it reflected the Hamiltons’ high status both inside and out. The building is open on selected days throughout the year and boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland.

The house has a good claim to being the birthplace of the improved steam engine. The pioneering Scots engineer James Watt developed his first engine in a small workshop beside the mansion in the 1700s.

The grounds also feature remains of the Roman Antonine Wall, now part of a World Heritage Site. There is also a small museum, which is open throughout the year.

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

Visit us online at:
Email us:

Five Go To Kinneil House – and win a big prize!

Kinneil House
Mysterious (and famous) … Kinneil House

Gosh! What would Uncle Quentin say?

They’ve explored a Treasure Island and Mystery Moor. They went up Billycock Hill and found a Secret Trail.

Now The Famous Five have had an adventure at Kinneil House in Bo’ness.

It’s all thanks to the writing efforts of children at the nearby Kinneil Primary School – who devised a new story for the four famous children and Timmy, the dog.

The Kinneil kids shared their efforts using text, images and video through Microsoft’s Sway presentation program.

It was so good the youngsters’ production has won a national competition … scooping thousands of pounds worth of prizes for the school, plus praise from tech giants Microsoft and Hachette, which owns the Enid Blyton brand.

Pupils devised “Five Go To Kinneil House” – about the Famous Five’s bid to catch two diamond thieves at the historic venue. (See/read their entry here.)

Their efforts won them:

  • a Famous Five book for every child in the school;
  • a copy of every Enid Blyton book that Hodder Children’s Books has published, for the school library;
  • Five Surface Pro 4 computers for the class;
  • a Surface Pro 4 for their teacher;
  • a hamper of fun games, treats and T-shirts; and
  • a bespoke cover designed by Enid Blyton’s publisher, Hachette Children’s Group.

Kinneil class teacher Lauren Young said: “The competition was a fantastic project to take part in, and it created a real buzz in the classroom. It encompassed many parts of the curriculum and allowed the children to share their talents and learning in different ways through writing, drama, art and technology. Enid Blyton’s stories encouraged the children to read more and her style and structure gave the children a great basis to build their stories on. I could not be more proud of the children for this fantastic achievement.”

The competition was organised to mark the 75th anniversary of the Famous Five books.
It challenged children in Year 4 and Primary 5 classes (aged eight and nine) to write a story of between 500 and 800 words in the style of the classic Enid Blyton novels.

The stories had to focus on an exciting location or place of local interest, and adopt the same five-step structure that Blyton used: set up, journey, adventure, resolution, return home.

Hachette gave the Kinneil Primary entry its top prize because it was a “great story and the multimedia presentation was outstanding”.

The publishers said: “They (the Kinneil pupils) had a mix of videos that they had scripted, cast and filmed, plus recorded dialogue and photos and drawings which told parts of the story in different ways, but everything flowed very cohesively. They had clearly put a massive amount of energy and effort into their entry.”

Lucy Upton, Group Marketing Director for Hachette Children’s Group, said the firm was delighted to team up with Microsoft to run the writing competition.

Ian Fordham, Director of Education at Microsoft said: “Blyton’s books are known and loved by children and adults across the world, and we hope they inspire young people to tell some amazing tales of their own.”

Kinneil House has some fantastic real-life stories of its own to share. Visit Kinneil Museum this winter to find out more and discover the Famous Five (or more) faces associated with the House and its wider estate.

Open days at Kinneil House are due to resume in the spring of 2018.

Coming to our Hallowe’en event? Read this!

Poster for the Halloween event at Kinneil House in 2017.Historic Kinneil House in Bo’ness hosts its last open day of 2017 today, Sunday, October 29 … just in time for Halloween.

There will be free spooky tours for families to enjoy. Kinneil Museum, next to the House, will also be open.

If you’re coming along, here are a few things to bear in mind.

  1. Kinneil House will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. on October 29, with the last admission at 3.30 p.m. – so don’t be late.
  2. Volunteer guides will be telling spooky stories about the building itself and about local people tried for witchcraft. If you’re easily scared, this isn’t for you. Read our press release.
  3. Children are being encouraged to dress up. The best dressed child will win a book token for the fabulous Inkspot and Silverleaf bookshop in Bo’ness.
  4. To be considered for the prize, kids (and parents) need to climb to the top of the House and get their picture taken (to help us judge entries). You’ll also need to leave your details – without those we can’t get in touch with you. We’ll reveal the winner via our Facebook page the week after the open day.
  5. We will use the pictures of fancy dress entrants on our web pages and social media. If you don’t want your child’s picture re-used please let us know.
  6. Children under 16 also need to be accompanied by an adult to gain entry to the House.
  7. We’ll be doing timed tours so you may have to wait a little to get in. Be patient! It’s worth it.
  8. The House also features wonderful renaissance painted rooms. You can see pictures on our website.
  9. The separate Kinneil Museum will be open (from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m.) Again, admission is free. Please note the museum is open a little longer than the House!
  10. The museum features hands-on displays and film shows. There’s also a public toilet with baby changing facilities.
  11. There will also be a pop-up coffee/drinks stall selling hot and cold drinks, chocolate and crisps inside the museum. Profits go to The Friends of Kinneil charity.
  12. If the House is very busy, consider visiting Kinneil Museum first – and then the House (but make sure you get into the House for 3.30 p.m.)
  13. Visitors will be able to park in the grounds in front of the House. Motorists should be aware the estate will be busy, so watch out for pedestrians.
  14. If you need directions, visit – or type in EH51 0PR into your Sat Nav.
  15. We welcome feedback. If there’s a problem on the day, ask one of the staff or volunteers on duty. We’ll try to help as much as we can.
  16. You can also leave a review on TripAdvisor. For links see
  17. People with disabilities are very welcome. Most of the key events take place on the ground floor of Kinneil House. There are a few stairs into the building. There are also two further floors to visit, accessible by a spiral staircase. Sadly there’s no lift in this historic building. Kinneil Museum, however, has a fully accessible ground floor and toilet and has a ramped access.
  18. Enjoy your visit. Any questions, please email us:

Thanks to everyone for all their support in 2017, particularly our partners at Historic Environment Scotland and Falkirk Community Trust.

We’ll be running more Kinneil House open days next year. Keep visiting our website at – and social media channels on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Discover the secrets of Kinneil House

kinneilhouse-winter300dpi-1_thumb.jpgFREE EVENT ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19, AT THE HIPPODROME CINEMA, BO’NESS


Come along to the Bo’ness Hippodrome on November 19, 2017, and join The Friends of Kinneil and Historic Environment Scotland for a unique chance to hear all about the latest research into Kinneil House.

Book your free tickets here

Archaeologists and historians have been working together, delving into documents and surveying the building. Together they can shed more light on Kinneil than ever before and paint a picture of how it was in its heyday in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Our special event kicks off at 10 a.m. on November 19, in the historic Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness town centre. The café-bar will be open for refreshments with the first paper/presentation at 10.30 a.m.

Book your free tickets here

At 1 p.m. the audience will move to Bo’ness Library (upstairs) for a snack lunch (included with ticket) and then some more discussions and questions (with an expected finish at 3.30 p.m.). You can attend all or part of the day.

This is a public event and we welcome anyone with an interest in Kinneil to come along. If you have queries, email: or call 01506 823714. If you have special access or other requirements, please get in touch.

Book your free tickets here

The speakers will include:

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

The Experts’ Day has been 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). For details visit


The Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness – the main venue for the free community conference, exploring the history of Kinneil House. (The afternoon session will continue in Bo’ness Library, upstairs.) The event is open to everyone, and tickets are free. Book clicking the link below.

Book your free tickets here

If you have queries, email: or call 01506 823714. If you have special access or other requirements, please get in touch.

Visit spooky Kinneil House on October 29

Poster for the Halloween event at Kinneil House in 2017.

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 29, 2017 from 1 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.

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 2017. The Friends, in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, will re-open the building again in Spring 2018 with a new series of open days.

A spokesman for The Friends 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 folks 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. The last admission this year is 3.30 p.m., so don’t be late!”

Kinneil Museum – in the grounds of the surrounding Kinneil Estate – will also be open. 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.

* 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


Free event to celebrate James Watt’s Cottage

jameswatt-panel.jpgFamilies are being invited to enter a world of invention and imagination at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness on Saturday, September 30, 2017.

With over 800 votes, James Watt’s Cottage in Bo’ness was recently crowned as one of Scotland’s six most spectacular Hidden Gems as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

An event called “Imagine James Watt” will celebrate this win with a free day of storytelling and activities at the site.

On Saturday, September 30, Imagine James Watt will take place in the grounds of Kinneil Estate from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors can join interpreters playing Watt and his business partner for storytelling tours, rebuild the site in LEGO, create the cottage of the future in Minecraft or add their own thoughts and images to the Impact Wall. The neighbouring Kinneil Museum will also be open early to support the event.

The event has been organised by Dig It! 2017, in association with The Friends of Kinneil charity, as part of Scottish Archaeology Month.

Ian Shearer from The Friends of Kinneil said: “Our thanks to so many people who rightly recognised the significance of this little building for technology and innovation, and voted the Watt Cottage one of Scotland’s Hidden Gems. Come along to Saturday’s free event to find out more about its fascinating 250-year-old story, take part in fun activities, visit the Museum and see other historical features in Kinneil Estate’s beautiful parkland. 

“Family activities include LEGO and Minecraft – that’s a good name when you think of the area’s mining past –  and storytelling of how and why James Watt and Dr John Roebuck partnered together to develop the condensing engine in secret at Kinneil!”

The James Watt Cottage may well be the only surviving building in Scotland with a direct link to Watt’s life and work.

The partnership between this legendary engineer and Dr John Roebuck – who lived at Kinneil House – led to their patent for the separate condenser, which was used in the Watt steam engine, a key point in the Industrial Revolution.

The James Watt Cottage was used as his secluded workshop for the ongoing development of their engine and there are no better-surviving monuments to the story of their world-changing work in the 1760s.

The “Scotland in Six – Hidden Gems” campaign drew in over 12,000 votes in total and was coordinated by Dig It! 2017, the year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology.

To learn more about the event, visit or



Notes to Editors:

Dig It! 2017

  • Dig It! 2017 is a year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology, coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
  • Dig It! 2017 is primarily funded by Historic Environment Scotland.
  • For more information, visit or join the conversation using #DigIt2017

The Friends of Kinneil

  • The Friends of Kinneil charity has been set up to help promote and develop Kinneil Estate and Foreshore in Bo’ness (Charity Registration Number: SC038368).
  • For more information, please visit


Further Information
For additional details contact:
Julianne McGraw
Dig It! 2017 Communications Officer
Phone: 0131 247 4066

Free event: Imagine James Watt

Kinneil Estate is hosting a free event from Dig It! 2017 on Saturday, September 30 . . . run in association with The Friends of Kinneil. It celebrates inventor James Watt and his Estate Cottage workshop with fun activities for all the family.


Who was James Watt and what happened at his cottage almost 250 years ago?

The James Watt Cottage may well be the only surviving building in Scotland with a direct link to James Watt’s life and work. The partnership between this legendary engineer and Dr John Roebuck led to their patent for the separate condenser, which was used in the Watt steam engine, a key point in the Industrial Revolution. The James Watt Cottage in Bo’ness was used as his secluded workshop for the ongoing development of their engine and there are no better-surviving monuments to the story of their world-changing work in the 1760s.

With over 800 votes, the James Watt Cottage was recently crowned as one of Scotland’s six most spectacular Hidden Gems as part of Scotland’s Year of History Heritage and Archaeology. Imagine James Watt will celebrate this victory with a day of free activities and entertainment coordinated by Dig It! 2017 and the Friends of Kinneil House.

Start your visit with Macastory by following James and John to the cottage, where they’ll tell you a tale of innovation, frustration and triumph. Why did John first call on James? How does Kinneil House fit into the story? How did it end so badly for one man and so well for the other?

Use your imagination and your LEGO skills to rebuild the site as it might have looked in 1796. Was it as simple as it appears to be? What it actually ten stories high? Have the historians missed the swimming pool?

Get in touch with your inner inventor and create the cottage of the future in Minecraft with ImmersiveMinds. Has his workshop been given the high-tech treatment? Has it been turned into a massive museum? Is it surrounded by zombies and lava?

Head to the Impact Wall to explore what wouldn’t exist today if James had never had his breakthrough. Use words or artwork to add your own impact to the wall, whether it’s on an international scale or a more personal level. Would it mean that you would never have played at the cottage as a child? Can you imagine a world without cars or trains? What if he had never been inspired by that boiling kettle?

All activities are free and suitable for all ages. Under 18s must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Imagine James Watt is part of Scottish Archaeology Month and Scotland’s 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

Date : Saturday 30 September
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Kinneil Estate, Duchess Anne Cottages, Bo’ness, United Kingdom, EH51 0PR
Cost: Free


Gallery: Big Roman Day 2017

Children and adults had great fun dressing up during the Big Roman Day at Kinneil House on September 16. The event was organised by The Friends of Kinneil with support from Falkirk Council, Falkirk Community Trust, Historic Environment Scotland and other partners.

Here’s a gallery of pictures from the day. Click a picture to see a larger version. Shots by Anna A Matyja.

Thanks to everyone who came along to the event. We hope you enjoyed it.

If you have feedback, get in touch. Email:

Families expected to flock to Big Roman Day

romans11ROMANS will arrive at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness on Saturday (September 16, 2017) for the park’s annual Big Roman Day.

It’s one of the launch events for Big Roman Week – a nine-day festival encouraging people to explore areas along the Roman Antonine Wall.

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.

The fun will kick off at 1 p.m. on Saturday (September 16) and run until 4 p.m.

Kinneil House will be open for free tours (last admission 3.30 p.m.) The House was built on the line of the Antonine Wall and is part of the official World Heritage Site.

In the surrounding parkland, children (and adults) will be able to dress up as Romans and make crowns, swords and badges. There will also be play archery sessions for children, fundraising stalls and refreshments.

Maria Ford from The Friends of Kinneil, helping to organise the event, said: “It should be a great afternoon. The Antonine Guard is a brilliant living history group that takes you right back to Roman times.”

She added: “In addition to all the Roman activities – we’ll also have displays from a local medieval re-enactment group and Falkirk District Wargames Club, who are making a return visit to the Estate. Local firefighters will be on hand to demonstrate CPR to visitors. There will also be displays of chainsaw carving! Plus families will be able to find out about a new initiative growing food for the local food bank right here at Kinneil Estate.

“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 and Doors Open Days in Scotland. It’s also the penultimate Friends’ open event of 2017: things conclude with Hallowe’en themed tours of Kinneil House at the end of October.

For more details please visit and