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I can't believe it's real butter: Workers find 3,000-year-old barrel of butter in Irish peat bog


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I can't believe it's real butter: Workers find 3,000-year-old barrel of butter in Irish peat bog



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 4:45 PM on 22nd August 2009



An oak barrel full of butter, estimated to be roughly 3,000 years, old has been found in a peat bog in County Kildare in Ireland.

The amazing discovery was found by peat workers John Fitzharris and Martin Lane who noticed a white streak in the bog.

When they knelt down to examine it, they saw it was a barrel, or trunk, full of butter. It was largely in tact and had a lid.


article-1208354-06250A67000005DC-341_468x362.jpg 'Amazing discovery': The barrel and lid weigh almost 35kgs


It had a large split down it caused by the butter expanding over time.


Archaeologists say the barrel, which is 3ft long, almost a foot wide and weighs 35kgs(77lbs), is a 'really fine example'.

Pádraig Clancy, of Ireland's National Museum, estimates that the barrel is approximately 3,000 years old, from the Iron Age.

'It's rare to find a barrel as intact as that,' Mr Clancy said.

'Especially with the lid intact, and attached. It's a really fine example.'

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.


Mr Fitzharris said: 'We got down to have a look. We knelt down and felt something hard and started to dig it out with out bare hands. We could smell it. And it was attracting crows.'

'We couldn't believe it,' added Mr Lane.

The two men put the barrel in the cab of their tractor and brought it back to their base, eventually handing it over to the National Museum of Ireland.

It is now being dried out by staff at the Conservation Department. Once dry it will be soaked in a wax-like solution which preserves it.


It is thought that the butter was put in the bog for practical reasons, rather than ritual.


'There are accounts dating back to the 1850's with people used to wash their cattle once a year in the bog and then put some butter back into the bog. It was piseogary,' Mr. Clancy said adding that the butter was usually 'stolen by the following week!


'It's open to interpretation, but we're inclined to think that 3,000 years ago they were just storing it.'

Such a large amount of butter, he estimated would have probably been the harvest of a community rather than an individual farmer.

The barrel was found in Gilltown bog, between Timahoe and Staplestown.

The bogs of Kildare have yielded quite a lot of artefacts, including spear heads, pottery and bodies.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1208354/I-believe-real-butter-Workers-3-000-year-old-barrel-butter-Irish-peat-bog.html#ixzz0Owt6f8FV

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