Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Buried Buckets of Butter!

A few weeks ago, my darling dad sent me a great link about some 3,000 year old butter that was recently found in a English bog. Crazy stuff. Three thousand year old butter!! These two blokes "harrowing" the bog found the butter barrel with their hoes, and the smell of the ancient butter brought the crows (the archaeologists came later!). The wooden barrel was packed with 77 pounds of butter and hidden away in the bog. It isn't edible anymore (surprise!). It has expanded over the years splitting its oak log container, but the lid was still on, and there it all was, waiting for its Iron Age creators to come back looking for something to spread on their morning toast.

While this sounds like a one of a kind find, it isn't completely unheard of. This one may be one of the biggest, and the fact that it wasn't damaged at all until the hoes whacked into it earlier this year is unusual. Apparently, there was a lot more butter being made back in the day than there were people to eat it, and lots of butter ended up getting buried for later use. In addition to going on toast, it may also have been an important trading commodity, and was something worth hiding. In fact, according to "Butter through the Ages" points out that it was a 12th century Scandinavian export, and that one of the most common artifacts found in Ireland is an ancient buried bucket of butter. According to these butter educators, the butter was often mixed with garlic (probably to make it taste better after its time in the ground!). "Butter through the Ages" also points out that the people who buried these buckets and barrels of butter knew it would be a while before they came back, and would sometimes plant a tree to mark the spot! I wonder if there used to be a tree over the barrel they just found in the bog. Amazing that a bog, and a barrel of butter have been in the same location for THREE THOUSAND YEARS. This buried barrel simply boggles my brain.

Makes me appreciate the nub of butter I put in my risotto tonight just a little bit more!

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