This monument is a 16th-century tower with an associated palace block which was much altered in the 17th century before being condemned in 1936. The main tower having been gutted, it was saved from total demolition when, during the process, wall paintings were found in the palace block. The tower sits, coincidentally, on the line of the Antonine Wall.
The buildings are arranged in an L-shape with the tower running NNW-SSE and the palace block running ENE from the N end of the tower. The tower itself now lacks any internal floors but has a replacement roof. It is a five storey building with pavilions at the north and south rising four storeys.
These pavilions have staircases in their W returns and the N pavilion links to the palace block. The main entrance to the tower is through a central door facing ENE onto an open court which may have contained a formal garden. Only the E end of the palace block has retained its roof.
The ground floor of the palace block is divided into barrel-vaulted cellars, one with a well, while the first floor has two rooms which are not open to the elements. One is vaulted while the other has a fine coffered ceiling. Both are decorated with 16th- and 17-century wall paintings. There are also two further rooms on the floor above.
To the S of the tower stands a steam engine cylinder and a roofless cottage used by James Watt while he was experimenting with steam power. To the W of the tower there is a deep gorge crossed by a stone footbridge leading to Kinneil Church. On this side of the tower there are gun loops dating from the 16th century, though abandoned in the 17th-century remodelling.
Kinneil was a residence of Sir James Hamilton of Finnart and heavy artillery defences are a hallmark of many of his buildings. There is an ice-house and the entrance to a tunnel within the gorge. Remains of the Antonine Wall are likely to lie beneath the gardens and the area to the south of the tower.
The area to be scheduled includes the tower and palace block (which are in the care of the Secretary of State for Scotland), the footbridge, Watt's Cottage and the gardens. It is bounded to the E by the Gil Burn and includes the full length of the bridge. The scheduling extends 20m SSE of Watt's Cottage and is bounded by, and includes, the wall on the S side of the garden.
The scheduling extends ENE as far as, and including, the gate posts on the drive approximately 125m from the main door of the tower. To the NNW the area is bounded by, but does not include, the road leading from Duchess Anne Cottages to Grangemouth Road. The area measures a maximum of 156m ENE-WSW by 146m NNW-SSE, as marked in red on the accompanying map.
Statement of National Importance
This monument is of national importance because, despite its partial demolition, it is a well preserved example of a defensive tower gradually converted to more palatial living in the 17th century. The monument is of interest in the study of Roman defences, 16th-century fortification, 16th- and 17th-century architecture, Renaissance decoration, garden design and the development of the steam engine. While there is much of interest which is already evident, the below-ground archaeology has the potential to broaden our knowledge in all the above fields.