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Boath Doocot



Boath Doocot is a 17th century pigeon house or dovecote on the outskirts of the village of Auldearn in the Highland Council area. The historic site is two miles east of Nairn, just off the A96 which runs from Inverness to Aberdeen.

Boath Doocot is situated on Castle or Dooket Hill and is a round tower with a diameter of 18 feet (5.7 metres). There is a car park for visitors and a steep path leads up to the building.

The circular tower is topped with a conical roof. It has a door at ground level and above it is the opening which provided access to the pigeon loft for the birds. It has a projecting rim of stone around the wall that prevented rats from getting into the nest boxes. Inside there are hundreds of small recesses for the pigeons to nest in.

The dovecot was built by the Dunbar family and was used as a source of food in the winter when other meat was scarce. It was built on a raised mound or motte which is all that remains of the Old Castle of Eren. The castle was built in 1180 by William I and was still in use in the early 1300s. Old Eren is actually the origin of the name of the village of Auldearn.

Boath Doocot was gifted in 1947 to the National Trust for Scotland who still maintain and manage the site. It has since been extensively renovated and reroofed. The site is open year round and there is a box for donations towards the upkeep of the building.

When the National Trust assessed the building in 2000, it revealed it was built of clay-bonded masonry with lime-based mortars and harls covering the stonework. Marine and river sand aggregate was used at various different times in the past to maintain the building.

The pigeon house is close to the site of a battle on 9th May 1645 when James Graham, Marquis of Montrose defeated the Covenanters. To the southwest of the dovecote is an information board which recounts the story of the battle.

The army of 4,000 Covenanters approached from the east, hoping to surprise the much smaller army of the Marquis, Lieutenant of Scotland for Charles I.

However the Royalists were forewarned and lay ready. The bloody battle turned when in error the Covenanters cavalry broke through their own infantry line in error and the Royalists took advantage of the chaos that ensued.

Nearby the battle is remembered with the local Covenanters Inn being named after it.

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