The building is a fine example of an octagonal doocot and was restored in 1998 by the trustees. It contains its ‘potence’, a moveable ladder which revolves round the nesting boxes inside the doocot and which was to ease the collection of eggs.
Do’cotes were a feature of many estates in Scotland. Pigeons or more usually their young, called squabs, provided a valuable source of fresh meat and eggs throughout the year. Their droppings were used as fertiliser and were also used in the production of gunpowder and in the processes of leather tanning and cloth dyeing. Many people believed that pigeons had medicinal properties and they were used in various forms to cure many ailments from the plague to baldness.
Many doocots were located near the mansion house so as to guard the produce and by products that formed a valuable alternative source of food. Others were located on the boundaries of the owner’s estates so that the pigeons would feed on the neighbor’s grain as well as that that belonging to the estate. One of the minor causes of the French revolution was said to have been the peasants anger at the destruction of their crops by pigeons owned by the French aristocracy.
The need for doocots died out during the 19th century as farming techniques improved. Many were demolished or fell into disrepair. In some places though the doocot is the only surviving reminder of a once great estate. Perhaps that survival can be put down to the wildly held superstition that the destruction of a doocot would result in the death of a family member of he who was responsible for its removal
The Gargunnock doocot can be accessed through the door on its south aspect though the potence should not be climbed.