Would you eat ancient butter? A 2,000-year-old 20-pound chunk of butter has been unearthed from a peat bog in Ireland, which is said to still be edible.
The large lump of butter was discovered by farmer Jack Conway while cutting turf for fuel in Emlagh Bog, County Meath on June 1. The strange rugby-ball shaped object was buried about 16 feet down in the bog.
Conway quickly realized that he had found what is known as ‘bog butter’ and contacted the nearby Cavan County Museum. “It’s very noteworthy,” Savina Donohoe, curator of the Cavan County Museum, told FoxNews.com. “Butter, a long time ago, was very valuable – it was seen as a luxury.”
It was not unusual for people to bury butter in peat bogs in ancient and early medieval Ireland. With low temperature, low oxygen and a highly acidic environment, bogs have excellent preservative properties.
However, the Emlagh Bog find is unusual because it wasn’t buried in a wooden container or keg, which was normal practice for storing bog butter. “It may have been an offering to the gods,” said Donohoe.
By analyzing the foliage and pieces of earth around the object, experts dated the bog butter to at least 2,000 years ago.
Even after millennia underground, however, the chunk still smells like butter. “There was a strong smell from my hands after touching and holding it,” said Donohoe.
The bog butter has now been sent to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin for further research and analysis.
Andy Halpin, assistant keeper in the National Museum Irish Antiquities Division, told the BreakingNews.ie website that, theoretically, the bog butter is still edible, but advised against it.
Donohoe told FoxNews.com that she was not at all inclined to sample the ancient foodstuff. “I passed on that,” she said.