Kinneil House and Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Kinneil House and Museum

Bo'ness, Scotland, United Kingdom

Kinneil Estate is a fantastic historic site, centred around the 15th century Kinneil House. Also at the site are a Roman fortlet, the ruins of a medieval church, a museum and the cottage of inventor James Watt.

Lily Johnson

03 Aug 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Kinneil House and Museum

Kinneil House and Museum, part of the Kinneil Estate, has a rich history spanning almost 2,000 years. The Kinneil Estate itself holds a wealth of historic sites, including a Roman fortlet – part of the Antonine Wall – the ruins of a medieval church, a cottage belonging to inventor James Watt, and Kinneil House and Museum.

Kinneil House and Museum history

Kinneil House dates back to the 15th century and was the home of the Hamiltons, a wealthy Scottish family who over the years were often embroiled in political tensions of the day. For example, in 1570 Kinneil House was damaged by gunpowder in revenge for the assassination of Regent Moray by a Hamilton!

Just a short walk from Kinneil House lies the ruins of the 12th century Kinneil Church. Abandoned in the 17th century, Kinneil Church was also partially destroyed by fire leaving just the western gable and historic graveyard, and the church bell can today be seen in Kinneil Museum.

To the west of Kinneil House can also be viewed the Kinneil Roman Fort. Forming part of the Antonine Wall, the fort was one of the mile-castles built to protect the borders of the Roman Empire, and as such is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

James Watt’s Cottage, at the rear of Kinneil House, is also the site where famous inventor James Watt worked to develop the steam engine whilst under the patronage of industrialist John Roebuck who lived in Kinneil House.

Kinneil House and Museum today

Kinneil Museum is a good place to start your visit to the Kinneil Estate. Housed in the stables of Kinneil House, the museum details the history of the site, hosts a number of artefacts from the estate – some dating back to Roman times – and also includes an audio visual show.

The house itself is also open on selected days throughout the year and contains a wealth of interesting sights, including a number of rare renaissance wall paintings.

At Kinneil Roman Fort visitors can view part of the roadway and a partial reconstruction of the line of the wall, while any visit to the vast Kinneil Estate is incomplete without taking the opportunity to explore the surrounding parks, woodlands and ponds.

Getting to Kinneil House and Museum

Kinneil House, Museum and Estate are on the western edge of Bo’ness in central Scotland, just off the A904/A993. Use the M9 motorway if travelling from other parts of Scotland and take the exits to Bo’ness.

The nearest train station is Linlithgow, however visitors to the Bo’ness and Kinneil Steam Railway can visit Kinneil Estate by getting off the train at ‘Kinneil Halt’, a 15-20 minute walk to the site.

Linlithgow Rail Station and neighbouring towns including Falkirk and Grangemouth also have regular bus connections with Bo’ness.

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