Farmer Unearths 2,000-Year-Old Butter

September 11, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. unearth / ʌnˈɜrθ / (v.) – to find something by digging in the ground
Example: The archaeologists unearthed ancient artifacts in Ireland.

2. edible / ˈɛd ə bəl / (adj.) – describing something that can be eaten
Example: He used edible elements, such as chocolate and candies, to decorate the cake. 

3. lump / lʌmp / (n.) – an irregularly shaped piece of something solid
Example: There were lumps of ice floating in the river.

4. curator / kyʊˈreɪ tər / (n.) – a person who is responsible for the things in a museum
Example: The curator shared interesting information about the painting.

5. medieval /ˌmi diˈi vəl / (adj.) – describing something from the Middle Ages (5th- to 15th-century Europe)
Example: Gothic architecture is an example of medieval architecture.


Read the text below.
Turf-farmer Jack Conway unearthed an edible 22-pound lump of butter in Ireland.

He came upon the butter while he was cutting turf, or grass used for fuel. The butter turned out to be bog butter – a type made from cow’s milk and buried in a bog or an area of wet, spongy earth. After his discovery, Conway contacted the nearby Cavan County Museum. According to the museum’s curator, finding bog butter is not unusual. However, the fact that it was unpacked and not stored in a customary wooden container was unusual.

The practice of burying butter was done by the Irish and the English during medieval times. Bog butter was seen as a luxury product that could be used to pay taxes and rent. One of the possible reasons why people buried butter is to hide it from invaders. Some also believe that this practice was done as an offering to the gods to keep the people safe.

Burying butter may have also been done to preserve it. Some experts claim that the practice was a way of preservation since bogs have low temperature, low oxygen levels, and a highly acidic environment, which are the components of an effective preservation method.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If given the chance, would you try medieval butter? Why or why not?
·         What are some old food preservation practices in your country?

Discussion B

·         Are you interested in learning about medieval practices? Why or why not?
·         How can such discoveries be beneficial for modern society?

September 11, 2016