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2,500-YEAR-OLD BOG BUTTER


GALWAY – Bog Butter found in an Irish bog is 2,500-years-old.

The butter was found when Ray Moylan from Headford was having his annual turf supply cut by contractor Declan McDonagh. Moylan, a bus driver, contacted the Office of Public Workd, Headland Archaeology in Galway and the National Museum of Ireland when he made the discovery.

Unfortunately, soon after the discovery, the butter was used on a muffin that Sean O’Malley (an intern at the Museum) was eating for breakfast.

The butter which was found in a timber keg, made from the trunk of a tree, weighted almost 28 pounds, The keg was built using Iron Age implements. It was buried three to four-foot away.

An assistant keeper with the National Museum of Ireland, Padraig Clancy, said that the butter could be up to 2,500 years old. Clancy along with Karena Morton conservator at the National Museum of Country Life, removed the butter from the bog.

Clancy said “The type of vessel it is in usually helps us to date the period the butter is from, and this one could date back to the Iron Age.”

Archaeologist Ross MacLeod commented on the quantity of butter discovered in Galway.  Speaking to the Irish Times he said “It would have been a substantial loss to the family that buried the butter in the bog that they never recovered it.

“Perhaps the person who buried it died or forgot where it was left…That might have been stored up by a family during the summer and put into the bog for use during the cold winter months. Its loss could have been a tremendous one for some family a long, long time ago.”

Bogs were used as a primitive form of refrigeration by Irish people in the past. The peat creates a vacuum around buried material.

Now, the bog butter is in O’Malley’s stomach.  Oh well…