Bog butter

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Bog butter from A Descriptive Catalogue of the Antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, 1857
Bog butter made in 2012 for the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery.

"Bog butter" refers to an ancient waxy substance found buried in peat bogs, particularly in Great Britain and in Ireland. Likely an old method of making and preserving butter, some tested lumps of bog butter were made of dairy products while others were meat-based.[1]

History[edit]

15th -16th century bog butter found near Enniskillen, County Fermanagh.

Bog butter is found buried inside some sort of wooden container, such as buckets, kegs, barrels, dishes and butter churns. It is a hydrocarbon of animal origin, also known as butyrellite. Until 2003 scientists and archaeologists were not quite sure of the origin of bog butter. Scientists working at the University of Bristol discovered that some samples of the "butter" were of adipose/tallow origin while others were of dairy origin.[1][2][3] It has been proposed that bog butter has been formed by food products buried in an attempt at an archaic form of refrigeration, as the peat creates a hygienic seal around the buried matter.

In Scotland, the practice of burying bog butter dates back to at least the 2nd or 3rd century.[citation needed] Until recently, Ireland's oldest recorded find of bog butter was a carved hanging bowl dating back to the 6th or 7th century AD. On April 29, 2011, there were press reports of a find of approximately 100 pounds (45 kg) of bog butter in Tullamore, County Offaly, thought to date back about five millennia.[citation needed]

Of course, the practice of burying butter may have had to do with protecting vital provisions from thieves and/or invaders of the time. Dairy farming was a common trade and for many, their livelihood. It is possible many stashes were never retrieved due to enemy occupation or simple forgetfulness.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bog Butter Mystery Solved?". 2004-04-02. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  2. ^ "Bog Butter test". New Scientist. 2004-03-20. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  3. ^ Prudames, David (23 March 2004). "Experts Get To The Bottom Of Ancient Bog Butter Mystery". Retrieved 2010-04-13. 

External links[edit]