Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

Inch Doocot, Gilmerton Road, EdinburghLB28140

Status: Designated


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Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 27323 70604
327323, 670604


Early 17th century, 2-chambered symmetrical, rectangular-plan lectern doocot in pink sandstone rubble with boarded doors to each chamber, a rat course above and crowsteps to the side walls. There is a central recessed rectangular panel rat course. There are 5 flight holes at eaves level above the doorways and 16 flight holes to each chamber set in the mid-roof band. The roof is pantiled with beak skewputts.

The interior was seen in 2015. There is a concrete floor and a timber roof and over 2000 stone nesting boxes extending from floor to ceiling on all sides of each chamber.

Statement of Special Interest

This rare, early 17th century doocot (dovecot, or pigeon house) is the largest remaining doocot in Edinburgh. It retains many of the characteristics of the classic lectern type doocot and is remarkable for the large numbers of nesting boxes still in situ. 17th century examples of surviving doocots are rare, the majority of surviving examples date from the 18th century onwards.

A N Robertson in his article Dovecots in and around Edinburgh, notes that the Inch doocot was built in the seventeeth century. James Winram, Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland bought the estate in 1617 and it is likely that the doocot dates to his ownership. The panel to the south wall would have likely contained a coat-of-arms. The size of the doocot indicates the significant wealth of the owner and the two chambers in the doocot would serve as both security and also would also mean that the birds were disturbed less.

The earliest surviving doocots or pigeon-houses date from the 16th century. Doocots provided shelter, protection from vermin and nesting facilities for pigeons. These distinctive structures, found principally on monastic establishments and estates with large households, provided a welcome and easily caught source of meat, particularly in the winter months, while the accumulated manure was a rich fertiliser for the land. They are an important building type as they tell us much about our agricultural and domestic history and they are often prominent landscape features. They are most common in arable areas which could provide sufficient food for the pigeons and are therefore more prevalent in the east of Scotland. Doocots largely ceased to be built after the mid-19th century when the need for them diminished, although a few decorative examples were constructed in the Edwardian period.

The early doocots were in a circular, or beehive design, and this was superseded by the lectern plan as seen here. So named on account of its characteristic sloping mono-pitch roof, this shape was first introduced in the late 16th century and became the dominant form of doocot in the 17th and 18th centuries. The shape allowed more nesting chambers to be accommodated and the lean to roof faced south so that the birds could sit in the sun, whilst being protected from the north wind by the high back wall. The design is very uncommon outside of Scotland. The rat course prevented rats and other predators from accessing the flight holes and also served as a preening ledge for the birds.

Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2016. Previously listed as 'Gilmerton Road, Inch Dovecot'.



Canmore: CANMORE ID 238016.

John Laurie (1766) Plan of Edinburgh and Places Adjacent. Edinburgh.

Ordnance Survey (Surveyed 1852, Published 1855) Edinburghshire Sheet 6. 6 Inches to the mile. 1st Edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

RCAHMS Midlothian Inventory (1928) p 134-5.

Gifford, J. et. al.. (1988) The Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books. p.492.

Robertson, A. N. (1945) Dovecots in and around Edinburgh in The Book of the Old Edinburgh Club Edinburgh. Vol 25 p.185.

Information on the history of Inch house, from (accessed 26 October 2015)

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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Inch Doocot set in garden grounds with box hedging


Map of Inch Doocot, Gilmerton Road, Edinburgh

Printed: 24/05/2018 03:28