A dovecote or dovecot is a structure intended to house pigeons or doves. Dovecotes may be free-standing structures in a variety of shapes, or built into the end of a house or barn sometimes using mud and bricks. They generally contain pigeonholes for the birds to nest. Pigeons and doves were an important food source historically in Egypt. The oldest dovecotes are thought to have been the fortified dovecotes of Upper Egypt, and the domed dovecotes of Iran. In dry regions, the droppings were prized by farmers and were thus collected for fertilizing their arid fields.