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Dovecote, Pigeon House, Culverhouse, Doocot (Scottish)

- pigeons have been a source of food and fertiliser since the bronze age. The Romans identified five criteria essential for a good pigeon house, protection from the elements, protection from vermin, ventilation, good access, and good nesting facilities. Caves, church spires etc were used to house pigeons, but eventually purpose built pigeon houses became common all over Britain, some with marriage lintels and decorative panels, many had over 1000 nesting boxes. It was considered a legal right for any landowner to construct one, but the damage to crops eventually limited this right to those who owned land which produced crops sufficient to feed their own birds. Dovecotes are sometimes referred to as culverhouses.

Two types predominated, the beehive, circular with conical roof, and the lecturn or lean to, rectangular in plan, and usually with a mono-pitched roof. There were also many individual architectural solutions, often associated with designed landscapes, and usually very well detailed. Pigeon recipes abounded in the 17th and 18th centuries but once fresh meat became available all year round, the buildings became obsolete, apart from circumstances where the birds were decorative. Many are now ruinous, some have found new uses, one at Knapp near Dundee is now a house - Doocot Cottage.

Glossary
Glover - the open cupola which frequently sit on top of doocots, allowing access and providing a place for the birds to sit and preen.
Potence - rotating ladder providing access to nesting boxes in circular plan doocots.
Rat or vermin courses - a projecting course of masonry, often stone slates, preventing rats gaining access to the nesting boxes.