A dovecote or dovecot /ˈdʌvkɒt/ (Scots: doocot) is a structure intended to house pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be free-standing structures in a variety of shapes, or built into the end of a house or barn. They generally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest. Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in Western Europe and were kept for their eggs, flesh, and dung.
History and geography
In some cultures, particularly Medieval Europe, the possession of a dovecote was a symbol of status and power and was consequently regulated by law. Only nobles had this special privilege known as droit de colombier. Many ancient manors in France and the United Kingdom have a dovecote (still standing or in ruins) in one section of the manorial enclosure or in nearby fields. Examples include Château de Kerjean in Brittany, France, Houchin, France, Bodysgallen Hall in Wales, and Muchalls Castle and Newark Castle in Scotland.
The oldest dovecotes are thought to have been the fortified dovecotes of Upper Egypt, and the domed dovecotes of Iran. In dry regions, the droppings were prized by farmers and were thus collected for fertilizing their arid fields.