400-year-old pigeon shelter now a des res


ONE of Scotland’s most unusual properties is for sale – a 400-year-old “ivory tower” that once provided shelter for pigeons.

The 17th Century dovecot in Inverkeithing, Fife, was home to 1,000 pigeons owned by the wealthy Rosebery Estate.

The building’s unique history is emphasised by the fact it is surrounded on all sides by modern blocks of flats.

The B-listed, three-storey structure was converted in recent decades into a one-bedroom home and is now on the market for £119,000.

The ivory tower
The ivory tower

Now known as 40 Merchants Way, the former Rosebery Doocot boasts a kitchen with brand new units and floor coverings, a luxurious shower room and a lounge with full-height ceiling.

The double bedroom is located on the top floor, which features a slanted roof and a gallery which looks down onto the lounge.

The tower is believed to have been built around 1650, just before the Battle of Inverkeithing which saw Oliver Cromwell’s English forces gain control of the Firth of Forth.

It was part of Rosebery House – thought to be the oldest surviving house in the area – and was initially built in the former orchard.

At the time, doocots were seen as a visible symbol of the wealth and status of the landowners, and the pigeons provided a valuable source of meat and manure.

A 1933 survey revealed that this particular shelter contained 1,335 stone nesting boxes which were in a state of severe decay.

The interior of the tower
The interior of the tower

All the signs of modern life have grown up around the property, including blocks of modern flats, roads, lampposts and electricity pylons.

But the general appearance of the doocot has remained the same.

The house itself features a rounded living space on each floor which is made up of a traditional turret attached to the side of the building.

In total it boasts 808 sq feet of floor area – over four times the size of a north London flat which was sold for a quarter of a million pounds.

Estate agents ASAP, who are marketing the property, describe it as a “delightful, one-bedroom detached property…of significant interest to the heritage of the local area which is steeped in history”.

The property is warmed throughout by electric heating and double-glazed windows – a far cry from the basic insulation that the first winged occupants would have lived with.

It is likely that the tower’s initial owners would have witnessed the landing of the English army, under the command of Major-General John Lambert, at Inverkeithing Bay in 1651.

The 4,500-strong army hoped to march on to Perth and cut the Scots line of communication with the north.

But as soon as the Scots heard of the landing they sent a force of 4,000 cavalry and infantrymen to the area to counter the threat.

A ferocious battle played out but it was the English who came out on top – killing around 2,000 Scots and capturing 1,400.

The battle was described as the “decisive encounter” of Cromwell’s Scottish war, which led to his rule as Lord Protector over the country in 1653.