The Peel Park is located on high ground in the centre of Kirkintilloch, adjacent to the Auld Kirk Museum. Its situation offers stunning views over the surrounding landscape, especially northwards to the Campsie Fells. It is regarded as one of the towns most picturesque and tranquil public spaces.
The Park is a place of historical significance. The line of the Antonine Wall, which was for a period the north-western frontier of the vast Roman Empire, passes through. The discovery of a wide range of Roman objects, over the years, testifies the former presence of one of the forts built at intervals along the wall. The high mound on the east side of the Park, near the War Memorial Gates, marks the site of a mediaeval castle built by the famous Comyn family, probably in the thirteenth century. It guarded one of Scotlands first Burghs of Barony, a status accorded to Kirkintilloch in the year 1211. The significance of the Comyns is reflected in the thickness of the walls of the castle, which when excavated in 1899 were shown to be almost 4 metres wide. During the Wars of Independance the castle was occupied by the English army, who rebuilt the wooden stockade or 'pele' around the perimeter. After the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) it seems certain that King Robert the Bruce would have ordered the castle to be dismantled, to prevent its reoccupation by the English.
Much of the castle moat survives. It is a 'dry moat' never intended to be filled with water. To examine the best part of it, visitors should turn left just inside the park gate and walk around the foot of the castle mound. Other objects of significance in the park are the bandstand and fountain made in Kirkintilloch by the Lion Foundry, famous for its decorative ironwork. Benefactors donated both to the people of Kirkintilloch in 1905. They now stand as a memorial to the foundry, which closed in 1984.
The park has recently undergone extensive restoration by means of a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant to East Dunbartonshire Council. The project has included the refurbishment of the Edwardian bandstand and fountain and the installation of new cast iron perimeter fencing. The War Memorial Gateway has also been refurbished, new park furniture and lighting has been installed, the existing footpaths resurfaced, and a new footpath built. Roman and mediaeval history are interpreted through a series of linked signs.
Clanranald Society display at Peel Park
In addition, an activity plan is being implemented to maximise the use, activity and educational potential of the park's buildings, features and associated spaces. The plan's ultimate goal is to promote understanding of local history, including the role of the park since Roman times and the part played by local heritage in contemporary society. Guided walks, adult and children's workshops and a range of educational and outreach activities are available by arrangement, to residents and visitors alike. In addition the park hosts an all-year series of public events, concerts and other entertainments.