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Joe Clancy displays the ancient bog butter which he found this week In Ballard bog on the outskirts of Tullamore, County Offaly. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

‘Bog butter’ from 3,000 BC found in ancient underground store

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Joe Clancy displays the ancient bog butter which he found this week In Ballard bog on the outskirts of Tullamore, County Offaly. Photo by: Photocall Ireland

Over 100 pounds of "bog butter" have been discovered in Tullamore, County Offaly. This ancient food substance, thought to been buried as a form of refrigeration, is thought to be 5,000 years old, dating from the Iron Age.

Brian Clancy and his uncle Joe were cutting turf in Ballard Bog when they made the discovery.

Joe explained "We were cutting turf and I found what looked like a huge piece of timber…We took it out with a spade and it turned out to be bog butter." Speaking to the Irish Times he said "It looked like a keg or an urn with two handles and a lid carved from a solid piece of wood."

The container has carving marks around the edges with a removable lid with handles and holes, possibly for carrying. The wooden vessel measures a foot in diameter and is almost two feet tall. The 100 pound container was buried seven-feet down.

Theories about exactly what "bog butter"  is vary. Some believe it was a special type of butter made at a certain time during the years and buried so that it might be preserved. Joe said the butter still has a dairy smell. In the past some "bog butter" that has been tested has been meat based.

When the men found the container Joe returned to his house and researched bog butter on the Internet. He then returned to the bog and "filled a wheelbarrow with the peat and put the keg into it and brought it home and contacted the National Museum of Ireland.”

Although it is one of the most common ancient discoveries in Ireland's bogs it is unusual to find such a large quantity of the substance.

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