Turf cutters have found a boulder of butter 3.6 meters (12 feet) beneath an Emlagh Bog in County Meath, Ireland. After their initial glances, researchers think it could be more than 2,000 years old, although it is going to be handed over to the National Museum of Ireland for further analysis and preservation.
The 10-kilogram (22-pound) lump of ancient butter is said to have a crumbly texture and smells like a strong cheese. Nice.
“Theoretically the stuff is still edible – but we wouldn’t say it’s advisable,” Andy Halpin, assistant keeper at the National Museum of Ireland, told the Irish Times.
While eating stuff that tastes like cheese, but isn’t cheese, might not be to your taste, people have eaten ancient "bog butter" before. One person to do this was Michelin-starred Irish chef Kevin Thornton, who ate some 4,000-year-old butter and liked it so much he served it in his restaurant.
There are a few ideas as to how the butter ended up in the bog. Firstly, with cool temperatures, low oxygen levels, and high acidity, bogs are ideal for preserving food. Secondly, butter was a luxurious food at the time of burial, so it's possible it was offered as a generous gift to the gods or spirits.
While finding buried “bog butter” is surprisingly common in Ireland and Scotland, the origins of this particular find remains mysterious because of where it was unearthed. The Emlagh Bog is sat at the crossroads of where three separate kingdoms met back when the butter was buried, meaning people scarcely dared to tread there, the Irish Times reports.
Turf cutter Jack Conway, left, along with his significant butter, and museum curators Savina Donohoe and Andy Haplin. Cavan County Museum