2,000-Year-Old Butter Found in Ireland
Food| | By Lauren Boudreau
If you were wondering how long your butter will last, it turns out, a very, very long time.
Irishman Jack Conway discovered a block of the stuff in the Emlagh bog near his home in County Meath, and it’s believed to be about 2,000 years old.
But wait, doesn’t butter melt, or something?
Well, apparently bogs have “excellent preservative properties – low temperature, low oxygen and highly acidic environment,” according to the Cavan County Museum.
The lump of butter weighs about 22 pounds and was found about 12 feet below the bog. It will be sent to the National Museum in Ireland for further analysis and preservation.
— Cavan County Museum (@cavanmuseum) June 9, 2016
In medieval times, butter was a luxury food and often used as a form of payment for taxes and rent. It was also sometimes used as an offering to spirits and gods in order to keep property or people safe, which explains what it was doing in the bog.
Andy Halpin, of the National Museum, told the Irish Times that this discovery, while not uncommon, is significant because of its placement at the boundary of three different medieval kingdoms.
“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,” he said.
He said the butter was probably placed there as a permanent offering, never to be dug up again.
Halpin also noted that the butter technically is still edible, but you probably wouldn’t want to spread it on your toast.