3,000-year-old butter found in Kildare bog

By | August 20, 2009

An oak barrel, full of butter, estimated to be roughly 3,000 years old has been found in Gilltown bog, between Timahoe and Staplestown.

The amazing discovery of the barrel, which is being described by archaeology experts in the National Museum as a “really fine example” was found by two Bord na Mona workers.

The pair, John Fitzharris and Martin Lane, were harrowing the bog one day in late May when they noticed a distinctive white streak in the peat.

“We got down to have a look. We knelt down and felt something hard and started to dig it out with out bare hands,” John explained.

“We could smell it. And it was attracting crows,” he added.

What they found was an oak barrel, cut out of a trunk, full of butter.

It was largely intact, except for a gash towards the bottom of it caused by the harrow. It was head down, and had a lid; something that has excited the archaeologists.

“We couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Lane.

The barrel is also split along the middle, which is common with utensils filled with butter found in the bogs. A conservator at the National Museum, Carol Smith, told that the butter expands over time, causing the split.

The barrel is about three feet long and almost a foot wide, and weighs almost 35kgs, (77lbs).

The butter has changed to white and is now adipocere, which is essentially animal fat, the same sort of substance that is found on well-preserved bodies of people or animals found in the bog.

The two men put the barrel in the cab of their tractor and brought it back to their base.

“We put it in a black plastic bag,” Mr Fitzharris explained.

via 3,000-year-old butter found in Kildare bog.

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