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Friday, August 21, 2009
3000 yr old bog butter? oh pshaw.
Listening to:summer night insects
Weather:75, summery
This world wide web is just the info pinball machine a cat can have fun with. So it started with Guy Kawasaki's tweet about a 3000 year old barrel of butter found in an Irish bog. Inquiring minds wanna know and all that, clicketyclick I'm checking out the article. Bla bla, oak barrel, lid intact, I'm skimming along cuz what I really want to know is WHY anybody would put a barrel o'butter in a bog 3000 yrs ago in old Eire. Finally toward the end they start talking about in the 1850's people bathing their cows in the bog once a year then putting some butter back into the bog, still no real explanation. Then I'm mystified by this quote: "It was piseogary," Mr. Clancy explained.

Mr. Clancy! What the fuck ever do you mean? Seriously, what pray tell is "piseogary"? So of course, I google it. And every result on the first page is either a link to this very article I'm trying to decipher, or a link to somebody blogging about what the hell is piseogary and why are all of google's results to the same article? Then I spun down the spiral faster and faster till poof I disappeared, like the snake who began to eat it's own tail.

No, but seriously then I notice that google first gave me a hint before leading down this circular path. At the top of my search results page it said "Did you mean: piseog"? Why, yes, I apparently did. Let's try that. Now a few online dictionaries offer similar definitions including superstition, tall tale, superstitious practice. Now we're getting somewhere. I'm thinking Mr. Clancy perhaps meant that he thought the practice of putting the butter barrel in the bog was some kind of superstitious ritual. I'm still skeptical since it was a freakin 70+ pound barrel of butter, that's a helluva lot of milking and churning just for superstition. But then again I don't know shit about of any this, so Clancy's certainly got more clout than cat here. And I can't put it past any silly human to go nuts ritualizing, don't get me started.

Anyhoo, one of the definition pages was from and offers some similar alternatives to the word: pishogue and pishrogue. This brings me to wonder, now hearing the "s" sound as "sh," is this word part of the etymology of the word "pshaw"? In case you're unfamiliar, pshaw is a 2 syllable word with a decidedly unsilent P. I've only known one person who used this with any regularity in my presence, that I can recall. He'll remain nameless here, he was a dick, and that's entirely beside the point. I believe the word generally means "oh bullshit." And this is of course a reasoned person's response to superstitious ritual.

Whaddy think?

permalink posted by cat 9:12 PM

read 6 comments

I'm not sure, I was linked to that article via, and when i saw that word I immediately googled it, now I'm here...
Me too
Life's a big mystery for the most part. :)
By Jove, I think you've got it!
It comes from old Irish word: piseog - literal translation is "superstition," and has to do with sorcery as well - so I took it to mean the gift was left to appease whatever spirits were in the bog....

27 August 2009

Wooden vessel containing butter found at Gilltown Bog, Co. Kildare.

In June 2009 a large wooden vessel containing butter was uncovered during peat milling at Gilltown bog Co. Kildare. This bog and the adjacent Timahoe bog have yielded a number of objects in the past including a Bronze Age spearhead, a section of a wooden wheel, wooden yokes and a portion of a bog body. The finders of the vessel, John Fitzharris and Martin Lanes immediately reported the find to the National Museum of Ireland and the object was taken into safekeeping. Over the course of the next few months the conservation department of the National Museum of Ireland will clean and conserve both the vessel and the butter, it is hoped that through further tests the species of the wood will be identified and the vessel dated through radiocarbon dating.

The vessel, carved as a single piece from a length of trunk or large branch, weighs 35kg and consists of a cylindrical body 0.65m in height with a maximum diameter of 0.27m. The lid of the vessel fits between two projections, or lugs, on the rim and is secured in place by a tapper rod threaded through perforations in the lugs. The base, although still partially covered in peat, appears to be resting in a grove cut around the interior of the vessel. The body of the vessel, lid and base all display tool marks from either a knife, chisel, adze or axe. A fine organic material is apparent around the rim of the vessel and covering the top of the butter. Further tests will reveal the nature of this material.

The almost complete vessel is a fine example of this vessel type and forms an invaluable addition to the national collection. Although as of yet undated the vessel is typologically similar to a number of vessels in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland, which have been dated to the Iron Age 500BC-500AD (1500-2500 years old). One such vessel from Rosberry, Co. Kildare, which has been dated to 400-350 BC, is on exhibition in the Kingship and Sacrifice section of the National Museum of Ireland-Archaeology- Kildare Street, Dublin.

The exhibition, which includes the Baronstown West bog body also from Co. Kildare, is centred on a new theory that connects human sacrifice with sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age. Research has indicated that other material connected with these rituals include: items of regalia; items associated with equestrian procession; weapons; feasting utensils; boundary markers; items associated with corn and milk production, such as quern stones and butter deposits known as ‘bog butter’.
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3000 yr old bog butter? oh pshaw.