2000 Year Old Butter 'Football' Unearthed in Ireland

NDTV Food  |  Updated: June 17, 2016 13:18 IST

2000 Year Old Butter 'Football' Unearthed in Ireland
  • A 2000-years old lump of butter weighing 10 Kg discovered
  • The prehistoric butter was found 12ft underground
  • Moved to the National Museum of Ireland for conservation and analysis
Photo Courtesy:Cavan County Musuem

If you get squeamish at the thought of that three-day old dish in your refrigerator, chew on this - A 10 kg lump of butter was discovered recently in Ireland from the bowls of the earth. But that's not the surprising part. What if we told you that the butter dates back 2000 years!? Take a moment to think about that.

The man in in the spotlight is Jack Conway, an Irish farmer who dug out the giant butter football from a bog (an area of wet muddy ground that is too soft to support a heavy body) near his home in the country's northern Cavan county. The large butter sphere is being moved to the National Museum of Ireland for conservation and further analysis. The prehistoric butter was found 12ft underground. It can be assumed that whoever buried it must have intended to keep it undiscovered, which did succeed for two thousand years!

Savina Donohoe, curator of the Cavan County Museum was quoted as saying that it did smell like butter (even after all these years). "And although I did not taste it there was a strong smell from my hands after touching and holding it," she added.

But why bury a large ball of butter? It is now believed that butter or anything associated with a cow, was seen as a sign of wealth, importance and was valuable in those times. This particular bulk of butter must have been buried as a ritual else normally it would have been found in a wooden box. The person did a pretty good job of hiding it, hence the discovery after 2000 years.

According to the museum staff, this butter is 'theoretically' edible but they would advise against doing that, which we're pretty sure no one would even want to try. They say it's edible because back in those times, bogs were commonly used to store food because of their natural powers of preservation. It is not unusual to plough objects out of Irish bogs, where kegs, canoes, wheels and lots of other weird stuff has been discovered in the past.


This is not the first ancient lump to be discovered. It is reported that around 400 similar butter balls have been found all over Ireland and Scotland. The oldest one to be discovered, was found in a keg, and is estimated to be 5000 years old!

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