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Kinneil Estate
Compiled by: Ken Wright
Kinneil was first mentioned by the Venerable Bede in the 8th Century; "called in the Pictish language Peanfahel but in the English tongue Pennulton".

1314 Battle of Kinneil Muir. Sir Gilbert Hamilton, Royal Bodyguard to Robert the Bruce, is recorded as having slain the "Great General of England" at Kinneil Muir. For this he was presented the Barony of Kinneil. This version conflicts slightly with the recorded version that Gilbert's son Walter was gifted Kinneil Estate by King Robert.

It is recorded that, in 1323, Walter Hamilton, the son of Sir Gilbert Hamilton, was gifted Kinneil Estate by Robert the Bruce, and although Hamilton House was the family's main seat, their house at Kinneil became an important residence, conveniently located for Edinburgh and the Royal Court. Walter fought on the side of the English at Bannockburn, but changed allegiance after the capture of Bothwell Castle, for which he was in charge of the defence, by King Roberts's soldiers. Robert later knighted him.

The Hamilton family constructed the existing building during the 16th and 17th centuries prior to which it was a simple Keep which forms the older part of the house to the north: they probably had a residence on the site as far back as the 14th century.

The house was later leased to various tenants, including John Roebuck, who was a partner in the Carron Company, and the philosopher Dugald Stewart, Professor of Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh University. Dugald's family were the last residents to occupy Kinneil House in 1846.

Sir Gilbert Hamilton gives the funeral oration at the burial of King Robert the Bruce at Dunfermline Abbey in 1329.

Kinneil House

Described by Sir Robert Sibbald as "This Palace of Kinneil", Kinneil House was originally built as a simple Keep, which still makes up part of the northern wing of the building. It was however expanded by Anna, Duchess of Hamilton, in the seventeenth century to become the mansion that can be seen today.
Kinneil HouseKinneil House
In 1651 General Lilbourne, one of Oliver Cromwell's commanders, requisitions Kinneil House as his headquarters. His young wife Lady Libourne commits suicide by throwing herself out of an attic window into the Gil burn almost 200 feet below. Lady Libourne is said to still haunt the surrounding area.

In 1661 the population of the Parish of Kinneil was 559.

Kinneil Estate was purchased by Bo'ness and Carriden Town Council in 1933 as a commercial enterprise. When Kinneil House was being demolished by the Town Council traces of mural paintings on wood panels and plaster were discovered. Dr Richardson of the Ministry of Works recognised the importance of these paintings and Kinneil House gained its reprieve. Panelling already removed was retrieved from the yard of a Glasgow contractor and thus the rooms in Kinneil House were restored to their original state of decoration. The earlier of the two wall paintings, portraying the work of the Good Samaritan, can be dated to the time of the Earl of Arran Regent of Scotland or the mid 1500's. The wood panelled room is dated about the first half of the 17th Century to the time of Charles I.
Kinneil House and "the White Lady"
Following the execution of King Charles I Oliver Cromwell ordered General Lilbourne north to police Scotland, thus in 1651 he requisitioned Kinneil House as his headquarters. When ordered north General Lilbourne had recently married, reluctant to leave Lady Alice behind he decided to bring her with him. Alas his marriage was not a happy one and he frequently quarrelled with his homesick young bride, who pleaded with him to let her return to England.

To teach Lady Alice a lesson the General ordered that she should be locked in an attic room on the West Side of the building overlooking the rocky ravine through which flows the Gil burn. The resourceful Lady Lilbourne managed to escape wearing only a white night-gown, but was quickly recaptured and once again imprisoned in the attic. In desperation she flung herself out of the window to her death on the rocks almost 200 feet below.

Another unsubstantiated local version of this legend is that she tried to elope with her lover, a young officer who helped her to escape. Unfortunately they were caught and she was again imprisoned, the officer was not so lucky and was entombed alive in a hollow tree. It was on hearing this news that Lady Lilbourne flung herself into the Gil burn.

The story did not end with her untimely death, her ghost, the aptly named "White Lady" can be seen vainly searching the woods and old mansion house for her lover.

As recently as 1968 crowds gathered outside Kinneil House because of eerie noises coming from the empty mansion. Press and TV were present with the celebrated TV reporter Bill Tennant on the scene only to find that the culprit was an asthmatic pigeon.

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