Pineapple Rooftops


Play Audio

Anna: Look up and around and see if you can spot what’s adorning the rooftops!

Kevy: Dundee’s position on the Tay Estuary means the city has always had strong trading links with other seafaring nations. From as early as the 14th century, the city exported cloth, animal skins and fish and imported wine, sugar, timber and fruit.

Anna: That’s right and there has always been one fruit in particular that has had a significant impact on the aesthetics of the city. It’s said that whilst at a dinner party in London circa 1800, Dundonian property owner and shipping merchant Donald Dunmore Baxter first encountered a pineapple. Baxter was completely enchanted by the exotic fruit and became obsessed with obtaining a stock of it for himself. Unfortunately the ships he sent to South America and the Caribbean always came back fruitless. Baxter decided to pay tribute to his beloved pineapple by adorning the turrets of his substantial property portfolio with likenesses of the fruit.

Kevy: The trend caught on and soon many buildings had similar ornate roof structures. Baxter’s original pineapple cupola stands in Dunmore Park, near Airth in Stirlingshire.
The Dunmore Pineapple is a folly that always ranks highly in architecture surveys. The cupola was a development in the Renaissance of the oculus, an ancient device found in Roman architecture, becoming more weatherproof for the wetter climates of northern Europe. The word cupola is a fancy way of saying it looks like a cup. An upside down cup. Some cupola had bells in them, and would call the trades to assemble. Like the saying goes, a bell is a cup until it is struck.

Anna: I think they look like acorns.