Kirkintilloch local history
Kirkintilloch was a place of importance in Roman times, when a fort was established there on the east-west barrier across Scotland, nowadays known as "The Antonine Wall". This was constructed around 142AD as a boundary line between Roman civilization and wilder territory not under permanent Roman control. For a short period it replaced the more southerly "Hadrian's Wall". The departure of the Romans was followed by a Dark Age when little is known of Kirkintilloch's history, although the name "Kirkintilloch," in its original form of Caerpentaloch "The Fort at the Head of the Ridge," dates from this period. Light began to dawn again during the twelfth century, when the prominent Comyn family established a castle in central Kirkintilloch, with a parish church to the south (at the locality now occupied by the Old Aisle Cemetery). The Burgh of Kirkintilloch was created in the year 1211, (although it was 1938 when an official grant of arms was granted by the Lord Lyon ) and a local market was held weekly thereafter.
In medieval times Kirkintilloch was situated on an important highway between Glasgow and the east, and indeed the town's axis lay very much on an east-west alignment at that time - West High Street, High Street and Eastside. A bridge over the Luggie was established at an early date, and was of vital importance in keeping the highway open in bad weather. The parish church was moved from the Old Aisle to central Kirkintilloch in 1644. Improved transport links in the form of the Forth and Clyde Canal (1773) and the pioneer Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway (1826) led to the establishment of important new industries - cotton, weaving, Iron Founding and boat building. During the twentieth century these all faded away, but there was an attempt to replace them with new ones during the period of Glasgow Overspill, around 1960. This met with only limited success, but the Overspill project resulted in the construction of many homes, both in the rented and private sectors, with a consequent increase in the population of the ancient burgh.
The Auld Kirk at Kirkintilloch Cross dates from 1644 and is one of Kirkintilloch's oldest buildings. Until 1914 it served as the parish church, but in that year the new St. Mary's Church was opened at the other end of Cowgate, to take its place. The Auld Kirk was then used as a Sunday School. Since 1961 it has been the town museum. The nearby Barony Chambers was erected in 1814-15 and formerly served as the town hall, council chambers, court house, school and jail. Today it serves as offices for East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust's Museum Service.
Have you ever wondered about the history behind the Old Aisle Cemetery Watch-Tower in Kirkintilloch? Check out a new leaflet on the building, which benefited from works as a result of funding from Historic Environment Scotland.