What to do with Finavon doocot?

The eye-catching doocot near Finavon is Scotland's largest doocot. It has become so dangerous it is no longer open to the public.
The eye-catching doocot near Finavon is Scotland's largest doocot. It has become so dangerous it is no longer open to the public.

LOCAL historian David Orr has called for the preservation of a local historical landmark which is viewed by thousands of drivers on the busy A90 near Finavon.

The Finavon doocot, which sits at the side of the north-bound dual carriageway, is Scotland’s largest doocot with 2,400 nesting boxes.

It is believed to have been built for the Earl of Crawford in the 16th century and is a large harled double chambered lectern doocot with low dormers which provide the flight entrances with crowsteps on the gables and obelisk finials.

David said: “Despite a roof collapse in the early 20th century, Finavon was restored in 1979 by Angus Historic Buildings Society in memory of its founder Sir James Duncan of Jordanstone and placed in the care of the National Trust of Scotland in 1993.

“Sadly, Finavon doocot is no longer open to the public, as it has now become so dangerous that the high rear wall is held up by temporary wooden buttresses.” He continued: “So, what is the future for Finavon Doocot? Will it collapse again or can it survive? Indeed, what of the future for the few remaining doocots? The generally accepted belief of good conservation practice is that the most effective method of ensuring that historic buildings are retained and maintained is to keep them in an appropriate use, and that the best use for a historic building is its original use. These are often difficult objectives to obtain in the case of doocots, which, because of their construction for a quite specific purpose, are difficult to adapt to alternative uses, the only successful one I can think of is the use of the Hospitalfield Doocot as an electricity substation in Doocot Park, Arbroath.”

David, who is chairman of Kirriemuir Heritage Society, explained that, in the 18th century, doocots were a standard feature of Scottish landed estates. They were particularly numerous in Angus and Fife because estates in these areas were relatively small and consisted of mainly rich arable land producing fine agricultural crops which provided an excellent source of food for the pigeons.

He concluded: “Angus is particularly fortunate because not only were there over 75 doocots in the county, but we have amongst the earliest surviving Scottish doocots which date from the 16th century including Scotland’s oldest, dated 1565, at Rochelhill. However, many of these lovely old buildings have already been lost.”