Sometimes Irish bogs reveal the most unusual finds. Two wooden 'methers', or drinking vessels, retrieved from bogs contain an unusual substance most commonly referred to as bog butter. The 'butter' is a waxy substance, a creamy white or very pale yellow in colour.
This practice is found throughout Ireland with dates for burying the butter ranging from 400 BC to 13th century AD. It is possible our ancestors used the peat bogs as a sort of fridge. They would put their store of food in the bogs to keep them cool and safe. Or it may have been as a security measure to prevent it from being stolen. In prehistoric times it may have even been an offering to the gods.
Bog butter is reasonably similar to modern butter except its fat content is about 15% higher and unlike today, there is no salt. However, a more detailed chemical analysis of the composition of the fats in bog butter reveal a substance that a chemist would more likely identify as a soap-like material - so perhaps best not spread over your toast!
Ask an Expert
If you would like further information about this collection you may contact the
curator by following this link and
completing the short form.