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2,000-Year-Old Edible Bog Butter Discovered In Ireland

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In County Meath, Ireland, a mass of "theoretically" edible bog butter was found and is estimated to be about 2,000 years old.

During the week of May 30, Jack Conway discovered the 22-pound mass while working in Emlagh bog. He recognized the soft, pungent knob as bog butter and informed the Cavan County Museum of his historical discovery, UTV Ireland reports.

Savina Donohoe, curator of the Cavan County Museum, said bog butter is a "unique find." According to Donohoe, centuries ago, this butter was reportedly viewed as a commodity that was sometimes offered to the gods, as was likely the case with this 22-pound discovery.

It is possible that Conway is the first person to touch the bog butter since it was buried, as it was placed 12 feet below the surface and did not have any type of covering, as reported by the Irish Times.

"It did smell like butter, after I had held it in my hands, my hands really did smell of butter," Donohoe told UTV Ireland. "There was even a smell of butter in the room it was in."

The bog butter has since been given to the country's National Museum. Andy Halpin, assistant keeper in the Irish Antiquities Division of the museum, told the Irish Times that the butter was significant because it was found around the border of three baronies and 11 townlands.

"These bogs in those times were inaccessible, mysterious places," Halpin explained. "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."

The National Museum will carbon date the butter to confirm its age. Although the dairy product itself will not confirm the age, the pieces of dirt and bark on the outside of the mass will reveal the time period during which it was submerged inside the bog.

Donohoe said such a historical find is important for the country because "it helps us learn so much about the past, and remember this country's great history," according to UTV Ireland.

Although the butter can be consumed, it will be placed in a refrigerated case with other artifacts and exhibits.

"Theoretically the stuff is still edible - but we wouldn’t say it’s advisable," Halpin told the Irish Times.

Sources: Irish Times, UTV Ireland / Photo Credit: Covan County Museum via Atlas Obscura

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