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Kinneil Estate Park (Bo'ness)

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“ Kinneil Estate contains woodland walks, a stately home, a section of Antonine’s Wall and a museum. Located in Falkirk, Scotland. „

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      08.03.2011 16:31
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      Plenty to see and do at Kinneil and surrounding area, particularly during the House open days

      Kinneil Estate is a large public park in Bo'ness, West Lothian. The park contains extensive woodland areas and grounds surrounding the historic Kinneil House. Its main points of interest include ancient Roman and medieval remains, plus a cottage where the inventor James Watt conducted experiments, in addition to the house itself and a fine little museum.

      Situated just to the south west of the town (properly 'Borrowstounness') near Falkirk and Linlithgow in east central Scotland, Kinneil is quite easily accessible from the capital, Edinburgh. Visitors to the area will find enough of interest here to make a slight detour from the better known tourist attractions in this part of the world.

      Part of the UNESCO Antonine Wall World Heritage Site, the park has good signage and well maintained paths throughout. It's very popular with regular walkers and dogwalkers. Indeed, Falkirk Council even organises informal health walks here under its 'Step Forth' scheme, which I can personally recommend.

      Along with the nearby Beecraigs and Callendar Park, which I've also reviewed recently, Kinneil has been one of my favourite haunts for many years now. There's always something new to see and learn here too!

      I don't propose to duplicate the excellent information which you can find from the websites listed below; but it is worth noting the main highlights, as these may not be quite as well known as they should be.

      ~~Museum and antiquities~~

      Kinneil Museum and visitor centre is located close to Kinneil House, in a former (17th century) stables building. The centre is open afternoons Monday to Saturday, admission free.

      There are a few parking spaces outside or it's just a few minutes walk from a larger car park at busier times (rare).

      The ground floor reception area contains a limited number of displays, posters, leaflets and sale items. On the first floor of the museum, the main exhibition "2000 Years of History" covers the story of the park from the time of the Roman occupation, through medieval times to the 21st century. Other displays include wildlife in the park and numerous artefacts. A helpful and informative curator is there to advise and an educational activity area is also available, along with an audiovisual presentation which I still look forward to viewing in full...

      Key archaeological remains and antiquities covered in the museum and clearly signposted in the park with interpretation boards:

      * Antonine Wall, now part of UNESCO's 'Frontiers of the Roman Empire' World Heritage Site
      * Roman fortlet
      * Medieval church and village site
      * Outbuilding used as a workshop by James Watt, with Newcomen boiler

      ~~Kinneil House~~

      With a 15th century tower, Kinneil House was largely rebuilt as a stately home for the Dukes of Hamilton in the 1660s. Most of the year it is only possible to view the exterior but it is open on selected days for free guided tours, organised by Historic Scotland and the Friends of Kinneil.

      Full details are available from the museum or online.

      More about the museum, house and church: http://kinneil.wordpress.com/attractions/

      ~~Visiting the park~~

      Access is easy by car and the park is close to the town. Parking is never much of a problem, though spaces near the house and museum are at a premium. I recommend the Provost Road car park from which it's just a short distance to the house and museum.

      Address & Contact information
      Kinneil Museum
      Duchess Anne Cottages
      Bo'Ness
      EH51 0PR

      Tel. 01506 778 530
      [See also web links below]

      ~~Other resources and facilities~~

      * Extensive woodland walks
      * Ponds with wildfowl
      * Children's play area
      * Toilets including disabled access

      ~~Nearby attractions~~

      * Scottish Railway Preservation Society Bo'ness and Kinneil line
      * Bo'ness Hippodrome - One of the oldest purpose-built cinemas, now beautifully refurbished
      * Birkhill Fireclay Mine
      * Bo'ness Motor Museum
      * Blackness Castle
      * Linlithgow Palace & Peel
      * Beecraigs Country Park
      * Callendar House and Park
      * West Lothian Golf Club

      ~~Verdict~~

      Plenty to see and do at Kinneil and surrounding area, particularly during the House open days (check with the museum or online).

      ~~Footnote: the Wall~~

      For those who may be interested, the Antonine Wall formed the northern border of the Roman Empire from AD 142 to AD 160. Unlike Hadrian's Wall, which it replaced, Antonine's wall is less evident, as it was largely earthworks with a stone foundation and sadly much of it has disappeared over the centuries.

      ~~Related links~~

      * Kinneil Estate website : www.kinneil.org.uk - includes a virtual tour of the house and a free calendar, plus details of Open Days
      * Falkirk Council : www.falkirk.gov.uk/home.aspx - contains information about the park and museum
      * Falkirk Online : www.falkirkonline.net - details of all major attractions in the area
      * Bo'ness and Kinneil Steam Railway : www.srps.org.uk/railway
      * Bo'ness Hippodrome : www.falkirk.gov.uk/hippodrome
      * Birkhill Fireclay Mine : www.srps.org.uk/related/mine.htm
      * West Lothian Golf Club : www.westlothiangc.com
      * Historic Scotland : www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
      * Visit Scotland : www.visitscotland.com

      [© SteveS001, 2011. The original version of this review is on the Ciao site, under the same name, plus photos]

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