KW-02 Auld Kirk Museum & Barony Chambers

The Auld Kirk and its graveyard are Grade A listed and together form one of the finest and oldest sites in the town of Kirkintilloch.
The church was built in 1644 to replace the 12th century St Ninian’s Church beside the Old Aisle Graveyard, in the south-eastern quarter of Kirkintilloch. The site at Kirkintilloch Cross had previously been occupied by a century chapel to the Virgin Mary. The building is of Greek cruciform plan, with a steeply pitched roof and crow-stepped gables. Some of the older features, such as the raked balconies and their pews, remain, but the pews in the ‘body of the kirk’ have been removed. The 1644 date stone is clearly visible on the exterior south gable wall. Near the main doorway can be seen the remains of an iron ring to which a chain and iron collar would have been attached in the 17th century. People guilty of a variety of misdemeanours were obliged to wear this collar (or ‘jougs’ as it was known) while parishioners assembled for church services on a Sunday.

By 1913-14 the Kirk was too small for the congregation, so a new parish church was built beside Townhead Bridge, at the other end of Cowgate. However, the Auld Kirk continued to be used for many years as a Sunday school. In 1941 the Town Council took over the Auld Kirk, re-opening it in 1961 as the town’s museum. Next to the Auld Kirk is the Barony Chambers, built in 1814-15. It formerly functioned as the town hall, council chambers, court house, school and jail.

The Auld Kirk is situated close to the Peel Park, in which a Roman fort on the Antonine Wall was located. A castle belonging to the famous Comyn family was built here in early mediaeval times, but was probably destroyed in the 14th century, perhaps on the orders of King Robert the Bruce. In 1897-98 the land was acquired by the the local Police Commissioners and soon afterwards was made into a public park. Recent restoration includes the bandstand and fountain, both fine examples of products manufactured in Kirkintilloch by the renowned Lion Foundry. In addition, the War Memorial Gateway has been refurbished, park benches installed, footpaths renewed and the Roman and Mediaeval history explored through a series of linked interpretive panels.