In a previous post we talked about Irish Bogs and the things found in them, most interestingly, Bog Bodies and Bog Butter, amongst other things. I took this picture in the Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff, which is only five minutes down the road from where I live. It shows some bog butter in a wooden vessel found in a bog in Co Longford, dating back to medieval times, but there have been even older samples found, going back five thousand years!
Ok, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to be eating this particular dish of bog butter…it’s fossilised for a start, so it would probably break your teeth! Not to mention what the peat might do to the flavour…it’s certainly not turning my taste buds on, I don’t know about yours. But why did they adopt this curious practice of dumping their lovely freshly churned bit of butter in a bog, anyway?
The most popular theory is that the peat bog was used as a kind of refrigerator to preserve the butter, thus prolonging its shelf life until needed. It is also suggested that it was buried in the bog to keep supplies safe from marauders and thieves. As dairy farming was quite common in those times, I’m more inclined to believe in the former. As with most things ancient and Irish, we just don’t know for sure.
Just another intriguing bit of the puzzle that is Ancient Ireland, which I wanted to share with you. Watch out for some yummy Iron Age recipes coming soon…