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2,000-year-old Butter Unearthed in Ireland

A 10-kilogram ball of 2,000-year-old butter was found in an Irish bog. (Cavan County Museum)

A farmer in Ireland has found a ball of 2,000-year-old butter buried in a peat bog.

Jack Conway found the ancient, 10-kilogram ball of butter buried in nearly 5 meters of peat in a bog in Emlagh Bog, County Meath on June 1. He discovered it while cutting turf for fuel.

The old butter is likely still edible because of the unique preservation properties of peat, which is both acidic and contains little to no oxygen.

“It’s very noteworthy,” Savina Donohoe, curator of the Cavan County Museum, told “Butter, a long time ago, was very valuable – it was seen as a luxury.”

Because butter was a highly valuable substance long ago, it was not uncommon for people to bury it in peat for later use. However, because this butterball was not enclosed in a wooden container, as was the common practice, some believe it might have been some kind of offering.

According to the website Quartz (, some 400 ancient balls of butter have been found in both Ireland and Scotland, and just three years ago, a 50-kilogram mass was found inside a keg in Ireland. It is believed to be 5,000 years old.

After 2,000 years buried in peat, the newly discovered ball still has the characteristic smell of butter.

“There was a strong smell from my hands after touching and holding it,” said Donohoe.

The butter is on its way to the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin for further study.