Oven and Dovecots
The Dordogne has a large numbers of ovens and dovecots, all mostly old. Most of the ovens do not belong to a single family, but to groups of farms where the local Lord (Seigneur) rented the oven to the local peasants who worked his land. It is for this reason that one occasionally finds ovens constructed separate from main buildings, therefore independent. It is well to note that their construction was to cook (notably bread, the staple food), as well as to dry essential elements of daily life e.g. cereals, meat, bricks etc.
The dovecots, also called 'columbarium', were built to shut up the pigeons during the sowing season, but above all to gather the droppings which were considered excellent manure.
At Bas-Portail one can see this oven, renovated and in excellent condition, integrated into the old centre of the farm. The building is in three parts – one the mouth of the oven, the second adjacent part served as the drying place for plums, nuts and cereals. The third gives out into the heart of the farm and reveals the interior of the oven, constructed in the circular form of a 'borie' of 3.5 metre diameter with a roof of 'lauze' tiles.
The remains of an old oven found in the masonry of an ancient house in Chambon. The facade remains and the oven 'mouth' is forged in iron. Behind one can see the remains of a chimney.
An oven, integrated into a sort of lean-to with walls of rounded stones in limestone, with a brick chimney partially covered in plaster up to the single slope, tile-covered roof .
This can be seen at Portail.
At St. Thibault, one can admire this tower which is an ancient dovecot. One may see the double openings if the 'par-belettes' (anti-weasel) close to the summit, which were there to prevent weasels and other predators attacking the eggs and living birds in the dovecot. Converted to an oven, this pigeon tower is in two parts – the lower part is made up of the oven and area where food to be cooked was prepared. The upper part served as a dryer/smoker for cereals and other produce. The oven, always operational, was used in 2013 to cook the bread for the 'Neighbourhood Fete'.