Bo’ness will enjoy some share in a £1 million lottery windfall, which will promote the Rediscovering The Antonine Wall project .
The Heritage Lottery fund announced that a number of different attractions within Falkirk Council would be rewarded via the package – and that Kinneil Estate, which boasts a Roman fortlet, would be the sole focus of the grant in Bo’ness.
A breakdown of the cash involved has not been disclosed but it has been confirmed that the funding for Kinneil will exist for a three year period and has been divided up with five other initiatives.
Falkirk itself gained the lion’s share of the package’s capital projects like plans for a Roman-themed playpark in Callendar Park and innovations in Cow Wynd.
The local authority spokesperson for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, Councillor Robert Spears, said: “The award will help us to continue to recognise the importance of the Antonine Wall locally as part of our heritage as well as a exciting visitor attraction.”
However, the news has drawn a mixed response from volunteer group Friends of Kinneil, which organises Big Roman Week amongst other events.
And that stems from the sense that perhaps the cash was not as fairly divided as it might have been.
Chairman Ian Shearer said: “This is very good news for the Antonine Wall and for the areas along it as a whole. The proposed projects will give added focus to this World Heritage site, help attract more visitors and improve educational resources for the next generation to learn about the ancient Roman frontier heritage of Central Scotland.
“Since 2006 we’ve done as much as any volunteer group to promote the wall. So it is inevitably discouraging that none of the main capital projects under this announcement are coming to Kinneil or Bo’ness.
“ Across the heritage sector, the best volunteers aren’t going to feel rewarded – or that it is fair – when other places, with perhaps less voluntary commitment, have more public heritage provision laid on.
“However, we’re pleased that Falkirk Community Trust are actively seeking separate funding for a new play trail at Kinneil.
“We’re also committed to working constructively with the trust, Historic Environment Scotland and other partners to seek priority for Kinneil for future investment, to raise its unique multiple layers of 2,000 years of internationally-important heritage to the full potential it fairly deserves.”
Meanwhile, it’s felt that innovations at Kinneil with the crucial Antonine connection will have a great knock-on effect for other attractions in the town which is determindedly trying to raise its visitor numbers
Amanda Kilburn, Business Development Manager of Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway said: “This is great news for the area. The Antonine Wall is not as well known as it should be and this will help promote its importance and bring in more visitors to the area.
“ Actually our railway track crosses the route of the Roman Antonine Wall at a location marked by a very high road overbridge along the line towards Birkhill. Visitors discover this and other information about the area by means of an ‘On Either Side’ leaflet which they are given for their train ride.”