Monday, December 6, 2010

Mummy, Mummy!

That last post left, shall I say, a bad taste in my mouth. But I couldn't help it. I was watching a National Geographic special (God knows how old; most of them are at least 15 years out of date) about "bog mummies", poor sods who couldn't com-peat in the real world, so were either murdered for sport, or executed for crime. Their bodies were then heaved into the quagmire of the bogs.

Some of these guys are creepouts: parts of their bodies are incredibly well-preserved. But it's haphazard. One poor guy is only 1/2" thick, with his skeleton the thickness of your fingernail. Others are so lifelike, you can still see their facial expressions after 3000 years. Sorta like Pompeii and all that stuff.
Altogether more lifelike than Burt.

I TOLD you to keep it in the fridge!!

Bog Butter Mystery Solved?
(Not written by me, but by somebody in the UK. I have to give credit where it's due.)

For many years farmers and turf cutters have been finding huge lumps of what looks like butter in the peat bogs of Scotland and Ireland.

The 'butter' is a waxy substance, usually a creamy white or very pale yellow colour. Lumps dating back as far as the Bronze Age, 3000 years ago, have been found in barrels, baskets or animal skins. They're buried in holes deep in the bogs.

Bog butter has fascinated experts for years as until now no-one's been sure exactly what it is.
A team of scientists have been running tests on bog butter from the Museum of Scotland and found that some lumps were made of dairy products while others were meat-based.

This tells us for sure that our ancestors in Scotland and Ireland used the peat bogs as a sort of fridge (remember, this was long before electricity was discovered and fridges were invented). They would put their stores of food in the bogs to keep them cool and safe.

Peat bogs are laid down over thousands of years as plants decompose, or rot. The peat's very wet and heavy so does a good job of keeping the bog butter sealed, away from germs and bacteria in the air.

Once peat has been dug up and dried out it burns very well, which is why locals dig up the bogs and keep finding bog butter.

All sorts of questions still remain though. Why do you think the bog butter stores weren't dug up and used by the people who buried them?

Was the food buried because the bog made it taste better perhaps? Was it buried for special occasions or as part of a ceremony?
(Or did they just really really really really really like shortbread?)