Doocots :: Shared Description

Doocot is the Scottish word for a dovecote; a pigeon is called a doo. Doos are semi-domesticated Rock Doves (Columba livia), the ancestors of the common feral pigeons found in towns.

In mediaeval and later times, it was difficult to provide winter fodder for cattle, so a significant proportion of cattle were slaughtered and the meat salted to preserve it, providing food in the form of salt beef. Chickens too tended to go off laying in winter.

Doos, however, survive all year round, and can breed at any time of year, and they like to nest in holes in dark places like caves. In order to exploit this, doocots were built so that the eggs and birds could be easily harvested for fresh food in winter. Young doos, called 'peesers', were harvested when they were about four weeks old, usually in the morning when the parent birds were out feeding.

The walls inside a doocot are lined with stone nest boxes, open at the front. It is from these that the word 'pigeonhole' is derived, of course. A doocot was also equipped with ladders to give access to the holes for harvesting.

Not everyone could build a doocot, however. It was recognised that the birds would feed on crops, so in 1617 a law was enacted stipulating that doocots must not be built less than two miles from the boundary of the estate, the logic being that the doos would then feed on ground belonging to the owner of the doocot, rather than raiding his neighbours' land. The snag was that of course the doos fed on his tenants' land. Thus in practice only the owner or tenant of a large property could build one, so when you see a doocot you know that it was a fairly large estate or farm.

Doocots come in various shapes and sizes, the commonest being rectangular buildings with a single sloping roof, called lectern doocots. Also common are round doocots tapering towards the top. These are called beehive doocots.

Almost all doocots have a layer of flat stones protruding from the wall high up and right round the building. This is to prevent rats climbing the walls and gaining access through the holes in the roof used by the birds.

There was a belief that the destruction of a doocot would be followed within the year by the death of a family member.
by Anne Burgess
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81 images use this description. Preview sample shown below:

NJ1868 : Gordonstoun Doocot by Anne Burgess
NO4003 : Lundin Tower Doocot by Richard Law
NT3873 : Northfield Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ2543 : Wester Elchies Doocot by Anne Burgess
NT2270 : Redhall Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ2543 : Wester Elchies Doocot by Anne Burgess
NO4597 : Netherton by Anne Burgess
NT4627 : The old doocot on Murieston Hill by Oliver Dixon
NJ1868 : Gordonstoun Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ5466 : Nest Boxes in Findlater Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ0959 : Burgie Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ9265 : Mounthooly Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ1860 : Miltonduff Doocot by Anne Burgess
NO6040 : Doocot by Anne Burgess
NO4138 : Tealing Doocot by Anne Burgess
NO5603 : Melville Manse Doocot by Anne Burgess
NO5101 : Below the Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ1869 : The other Gordonstoun Doocot by Anne Burgess
NS8572 : Doocot by Anne Burgess
NT1175 : Humbie Farm Doocot by Anne Burgess
NK0246 : Inverquhomery Doocots (1) by Anne Burgess
NO4138 : Tealing Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ5548 : Doocot by Anne Burgess
NJ3153 : Orton Doocot by Anne Burgess
NT0778 : Midhope Doocot by Anne Burgess

... and 56 more images.

These Shared Descriptions are common to multiple images. For example, you can create a generic description for an object shown in a photo, and reuse the description on all photos of the object. All descriptions are public and shared between contributors, i.e. you can reuse a description created by others, just as they can use yours.
Created: Wed, 27 Jun 2012, Updated: Wed, 27 Mar 2013

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2012 Anne Burgess, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

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