Found: A 2,000-Year-Old, 22-Pound, Still-Edible Hunk of Bog Butter
Maybe not the best thing to eat, though.
BY SARAH LASKOW
IN EMLAGH BOG IN COUNTY Meath, Ireland, which was once at the juncture of three different kingdoms, a turf cutter has found a giant knob of “bog butter,” buried hundreds of years ago and preserved to this day.
“It did smell like butter,” one person who held the giant lump told UTV Ireland.
“Bog butter” is butter that has been buried in a bog. The Irish Times describes it as a “creamy white dairy product, which smells like a strong cheese.” The earliest known examples date back almost 2,000 years, but there are records of people burying butter as recently as the 1800s. This one is estimated to be an early example but will be studied further to date it.
Why would anyone bury butter in a bog? Often, to preserve it: butter made hundreds of years ago, without salt, wouldn’t last long, but the cool, low oxygen environment of the bog could extend its life. Bog butter is sometimes found encased in wooden containers or animal hide, to protect it as well.
This hunk of bog butter had no case, though. It may have been buried for a more formal reason—as an offering to the gods, who might keep the place it was buried safe.
Even after hundreds of years, it could still be edible, although it’s not clear that it would taste good or that it’s a good idea to eat butter meant for gods.
He sees them sometimes, out of the corner of his eye. Just shapes at times, like spotting faces in clouds. Or sometimes it’s the scent of flowers – primroses, he thinks, and he’s not sure why he knows what primroses smell like – drifting on the breeze when there is no wind.
“Am I haunted?” he’d once asked his mother, when the wisps and the scents had given way to whispers.
She’d smiled in a wistful, faraway manner and said something about his father.
“Bog” King doesn’t remember his father. Not really. Sometimes he thinks of fiery blue eyes and a laugh that somehow reminds him of tree bark, but he knows those could just as easily have been the imagination of a lonely child.
He goes about his life quietly, avoiding the other children in town, who have always made it obvious that he didn’t fit among them. Instead, he spends his time among the trees, the animals. He’s saved a handful of toads, lizards, and insects of indeterminate origin while growing up.
As he gets older, sometimes his amphibian friends seem to change shape in the corner of his vision, taking more humanoid forms. They watch him with a strange mixture of reverence and confusion. His mother has complained about his “goblin army” infesting the backyard and tormenting the neighbors, but he swears he never set them on anybody. They just…do things when he’s upset.
Bog ignores it, goes about the business of growing up. He graduates high school, he begins college, and helps his mother plant a row of flowers – primroses – along the forest border. The sense that there’s somewhere he needs to be, that he and his mother aren’t supposed to be living in a charming little house in the suburbs, washes over him almost daily. It has since he was ten, and he figures it’ll fade in time. It doesn’t.
He falls in love. He makes mistakes. For once the whispers don’t help him, and Bog begins to retreat into the increasingly overgrown yard behind his mother’s house with only his absurdly long-lived animal companions.
He doesn’t begin to understand the true weight of his predicament until the day a winged girl with cat-like eyes stumbles into his yard, and the “amphibians” take vaguely goblinish shapes to chase her off.
That was the day Griselda King had to explain to Bog their…complicated…family.
still behaves like a fucking adult and understands the world does not revolve around me and that i have no right to police other people or demand that they confirm whether or not they are abuse victims to justify themselves to me because that is none of my damn business
I’ve only heard God’s voice twice in my life. It is bold and powerful and when you hear it, an overwhelming peace washes over you. I heard him on Sunday during worship. He said “I’m here”. So simple, yet I felt Him. He is here. Every second of every day. Every time my mind convinces me I’m not good enough. Every time life bogs me down. He is here. He is here for you too. Sit in the silence and wait for His voice.