The Oak in a Dovecote, Béceleuf

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In the old days, the possession of a dovecote was a symbol of status and power, and only the nobles had the privilege of owning one. Breeding pigeons had good value. It not only provided meat and eggs — pigeons and doves were an important food source in Western Europe — but their dung served as an excellent fertilizer. The pigeons kept by the lords however were a nuisance to nearby peasant farmers, particular at the time of sowing of new crops. When feudalism in France was abolished on 4 August 1789, the rights to keep dovecot were thrown out as well. Thousands of dovecotes all across France fell into disuse.

In the small town of Béceleuf, in the department of Deux-Sèvres, there is an old dovecote that once belonged to the noble house of Pouzay in the fifteenth century. Abandoned and neglected, the building lost its roof letting in rainwater and sunlight —the miracles of life, and a young oak tree started to spring forth. The oak tree is now a hundred years old. It has outgrown the towering stone cylinder that protected the tree from predators when it was young, today forming a crown over its head.

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Photo credit: pierrecuny.canalblog.com 

The circular structure is outfitted with 2,700 small holes on the inside that once held more than 5,000 pigeons. A well protruding cornice inhibited rats and weasels from climbing the wall and getting into the building through the dormer windows. A vertical ladder, suspended from brackets fixed to a central pole pivoted on its base, provided access to the nests. Over time the roof disappeared and was replaced by this beautiful oak, that has been recognized as one of “the most remarkable trees of France”.

Also see: The Pigeon Towers of Iran

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Photo credit: jf beceleuf/Panoramio

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Photo credit: Yanick/Panoramio

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Photo credit: patxaran6/Panoramio

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Photo credit: pierrecuny.canalblog.com 

Sources: pierrecuny.canalblog.com / Wikipedia

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