Speed Reads

goodbye, appetite

An Irishman found a 2,000-year-old lump of butter in a bog. It's still edible.

A turf cutter in County Meath, Ireland, dug up a 22-pound lump of 2,000-year-old butter in early June, finding the ancient foodstuff 12 feet underground. Despite its advanced age, archeologists say the butter is (theoretically) still edible, though it has "a waxy texture and overwhelming cheese smell." Taste testers of a modern duplicate described its flavor notes as "'animal' or 'gamey,' 'moss,' 'funky,' 'pungent,' and 'salami.'"

Remarkably, this is neither the largest nor the oldest bog butter ever discovered. In 2013, another turf cutter in County Offaly found 100 pounds of 5,000-year-old butter. Similar discoveries are relatively common as bogs continue to be a source of fuel in Ireland; County Cork even hosts a butter museum where many examples of the hoary spread are on display.

The butter survives the centuries because of bogs' unique preservative properties, which also work on people. Bodies accidentally or intentionally buried in bogs can be preserved in nearly lifelike condition for thousands of years.