Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another cask of bog butter found, in Tullamore, Co Offaly

Two turf-cutters have just discovered a wooden cask of bog butter outside Tullamore, Co Offaly that may be two to three thousand years old. Joe Clancy and his nephew Brian were cutting turf in Ballard Bog when they came upon what they described as 'a huge piece of timber.' They took it out with a spade, and found that it was bog butter in container.

Ancient Bog Butter Discovered In Ballard Bog thumbnail

The container has carved marks around the edges, a removable lid with handles and holes, possibly for carrying. It's about a foot in diameter, about two feet tall, and weighed just over 100 pounds. After going home and researching 'bog butter' on the Internet, Joe Clancy packed the container in wet peat and brought it home, and immediately contacted the National Museum of Ireland. Joe Clancy also remarked that the white substance inside the container still had a 'dairy smell.'

Or, as Seamus Heaney put it in his poem, 'Bogland':  'Butter sunk under / More than a hundred years / Was recovered salty and white.'

Andy Halpin, the archaeologist from National Museum who visited the site to take measurements and recover the specimen for further examination, said that tests would reveal how old the butter is, and speculated that it could have been buried in the Ballard area because it was on the ancient boundary between two territories.

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