The dovecot is a traditional structure on Scottish agricultural estates, particularly common in Fife and the Lothians. Pigeons were a source of:
- Expensive, high status food;
- Feathers for pillows, etc;
- Poo rich in lime that could be used as a fertiliser or an ingredient of mortar.
The dovecot in Pittencrieff Park is a grandiose structure, fully reflecting the status of such a building. Its crenelations, arrow slits and gothic entrance may have been intended as a nod to the medieval origins of the Pittencrieff estate and Malcolm Canmore’s Tower, believed to have once stood on Tower Hill to the south of the dovecote.
Our earliest documentary evidence of the dovecot comes from Robert Scotland’s estate plan of 1776, looking remarkably similar to today.
The interior is in good condition, the roof is water-tight and the Friends of Pittencrieff Park have cleared the dirt floor of rubbish and debris. It was at their request that the 2017 summer school began to excavate the floor area.
Beneath layers of dust and debris we uncovered what is probably the original cobbled floor. Excavation has proved both challenging and interesting. There are many contexts reflecting internal destruction by fire and subsequent periods of occupation and use by humans and small animals alike.