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West Lothian
Kinneil House.jpg
Kinneil House
Grid reference: NS983804
Location: 56°0’22"N, 3°37’54"W
Population: 14,490  (2001)
Post town: Bo'ness
Postcode: EH51
Dialling code: 01506
Local Government
Council: Falkirk
Linlithgow and East Falkirk

Kinneil was once a port village of itself, and is now a suburb of Bo'ness. Its name dated back to the Dark Ages, and the history of its name is perhaps as telling as the name itself. The name altimately is from, the Pictish language, Pennfahel meaning "wall's end", in reference to the Antonine Wall, the northerly Roman frontier wall which met the sea here.

Kinneil has important historical links to the Roman period for it marks the eastern extent of the Antonine Wall[1] which stretched from Kinneil to Old Kilpatrick in Dumbartonshire on the west coast. Roman artefacts, some with inscriptions, have been found in the eastern part of Bo'ness and a Roman fort called Veluniate, long since lost to history, once stood on the site now occupied by the grounds of Carriden House, but it was at Kinneil that the Antonine Wall met the sea. Here too are the remains of a Roman fort.

Name of the village

Kinneil's importance as a Roman position as led to some importance amongst philologists and historians of the Dark Ages also, for accounts of the village suggest that it was at the meeting-place of tribes and languages. Kinneil was described by Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, who gave its names in English and in Pictish. Nennius (a Welsh scholar), in a later century gave its names in Welsh, English and Gaelic, which suggests that by his time Gaelic culture was becoming an influence. The frontier between nations must have been close by in both ages.

Writer Approx. date Language Name
Bede[2] 731 (Old) English Penneltun
Pictish Peanfahel
Nennius early 9th C Welsh Penguaul
Gaelic Cenail
(Old) English Peneltun

Kinneil Estate

The line of the Roman Antonine Wall runs through the surrounding Kinneil Estate, and the area is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site. A Roman fortlet can be viewed a short walk to the west of Kinneil House

Kinneil House

Kinneil House stands at the edge of the town, an impressive mansion set in a public park. The oldest part of the house is a 15th-century tower remodelled by the Earl of Arran between 1546 and 1550 and transformed into a stately home for the Dukes of Hamilton in the 1660s.

The grounds contain the ruins of James Watt’s cottage and the boiler of his Newcomen Engine, which led to his invention of the practical team engine which revolutionised the world.[3]

Kinneil House is open on special free open days during the year, organised by Historic Scotland and the charity, The Friends of Kinneil.

Kinneil Museum

Kinneil Museum is managed by the local council. It stands in the 17th century stable block of Kinneil House and features the exhibition "2000 years of history" which tells the story of the park from Roman times to the present day. There is also an audio visual show on the history of the area.

Admission is free and the museum is open Monday to Saturday afternoons throughout the year.

In the grounds of Kinneil House is the ruin of the small house where James Watt worked on his steam engine.

Outside links


  1. Antonine Wall - Historic Scotland
  2. Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People - Incipit autem duorum ferme milium spatio a monasterio Aebbercurnig ad occidentem in loco, qui sermone Pictorum Peanfahel, lingua autem Anglorum Penneltun appellatur - "Historia Ecclesiasticam Gentis Anglorum"
  3. Old Bo'ness by Alex F Young ISBN 9781840334821