Pigeonniers / Colombiers / Fuies / Dovecots de la Dordogne

DSCF0530The Dordogne has a wonderful variety of pigeonniers  (dovecots in pigeonnier sketchEnglish)…introduced to France by the Romans, they have been a source of food, manure, status and architectural flair for almost 2000 years. Until the early 14th Century , anyone in France could own a pigeonnier, but during the middle ages, they were restricted to people of high status with many rules and regulations determining their physical size and capacity. The higher the social order of the household or church, the larger the pigeonnier could be. The typical pigeonnier has an open interior with small nests suitable for a pair of nesting birds, some of the largest pigeonniers could house up to 2300 pairs of pigeons, I wouldn’t want the job of cleaning out their boxes !  For the poor peasant farmer trying to sow his crops,  swarms of pigeons ( generally owned by the aristocracy ) descended on the freshly tilled and sown soil and devoured his valuable seeds. Up to the French Revolution, many of the ‘ citizens complaints ‘ to the local governor were related to this issue, after the French Revolution,  in 1789,  the laws were changed and  again, anybody could breed and own pigeons, but there were regulations decreed to enforce the containment and feeding of the birds during certain DSCF0515periods of the year, including sowing and harvesting time. The name colombier and fuie is used to describe a pigeon house in early writings but  in later centuries, a colombier tended to be  a stand alone building and colombine was the very rich and nutricious manure  produced by the pigeons. In the Middle Ages, the possession of a colombier à pied ( on the ground and accessible by foot) constructed seperately from the main house was a privilege of the seigneurial lord. He was granted permission by his overlord to build a colombier on his estate. For other constructions / designs the rights or permission ( droit de colombier) varied between provinces. They had to be built in proportion to the importance of the property, placed in a floor above a henhouse, a kennel, an oven, perhaps their wine cellar ( thanks to Wikipedia for some of this info). Today many of the larger pigeonniers have been converted into stand alone accommodation or become part of the main household building. I’ve photographed a few from around the local area of Maison Porte del Marty

DSCF0527DSCF0524pigeonnier interieur

Pigeonier interieur