Earlier this month, Jack Conway was cutting turf in the Emlagh Bog in Co. Meath when he hit upon a round, oblong mass, covered in dirt.
It was bog butter, and Conway was likely the first person to hold it in 2,000 years.
Bog butter is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – butter that was left in a peat bog (sometimes for practical purposes; sometimes as an offering to the gods) and preserved. Discoveries of these ancient butter troves are not uncommon in Ireland, but what makes Conway’s discovery unusual is the size of the bog butter, which weighs in at 22 pounds.
Conway immediately called Cavan County Museum, he told UTV, who took custody of the amazing find before it was transferred to the National Museum of Ireland for further inspection. Experts there will use the bark fragments and dirt surrounding the orb of ancient butter in order to determine a more exact date range for the butter.
After testing, it will be returned to the Cavan County Museum, where it will reside in a refrigerated display case as an exhibit.
What is bog butter like in person? “It did smell like butter, after I had held it in my hands, my hands really did smell of butter. There was even a smell of butter in the room it was in,” Conway told UTV.
The largest recen discovery of bog butter in Ireland took place in 2013, when two men found a 100-pound chest full of bog butter in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.