The dairy product, described as smelling of strong cheese, has been given to the National Museum
Turf cutters in Co Meath have uncovered a whopping 10kg mound of butter preserved for more than 2,000 years. Believed to have been an offering to gods worshipped in prehistoric Ireland, the huge butter ball was unearthed by Jack Conway while he was working in Emlagh Bog last week.
While finds of this kind are not uncommon in Irish bogs, where the chemical balance can preserve organic materials for long periods of time, the butter has now been passed on to the National Museum, where it will be preserved. The dairy foodstuff has been described of smelling like a strong cheese, reported The Irish News.
Its discovery after 2,000 years is, however, significant, according to Andy Halpin, assistant keeper to the National Museum’s Irish antiquities division, considering that at the time, the bogs would have been difficult to reach and shrouded in myth.
“These bogs in those times were inaccessible, mysterious places,” Halpin said. “It is at the juncture of three separate kingdoms, and politically it was like a no-man’s-land, that is where it all hangs together.”
Archaeologists believe butter was buried in bogs in order to preserve it for consuming at a later time, with some researchers also believing it was given as an offering to gods. It is commonly found in Irish and Scottish bogs, having become wax-like over thousands of years.
“Theoretically the stuff is still edible, but we wouldn’t say it’s advisable,” Andy Halpin said.
Savina Donohue, curator of the Cavan County Museum and first on site after the butter's discovery, spoke to Sean Moncrief about the find. You can listen back to the interview in the podcast below: