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From Durness, Sutherland

Postcard of Trough.
© National Museums Scotland


This wooden trough was found at Durness in Sutherland. It contains a shrunken lump of bog-butter. It dates from between around 960 and 1260 AD.

The rectangular trough has flat handles at each end.

The practice of burying butter in bogs was carried out over many centuries, for storage and perhaps for other reasons. The Durness butter may have been stored for use as a tax payment - a practice known from Norse documentary sources.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-100-001-988-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.SHC 10
Date: Between around 960 and 1260 AD
Material: Wood / bog-butter
Wood / bog-butter
Dimensions: 29.00" x 11.00" x 4.50" / 13.20" x 7.50"
What: Trough / sample / bog butter
Trough / sample / bog butter
Subject: Dairy - bog butter (NMAS Classification)
Where: Scotland, Sutherland, Durness
Scotland, Sutherland, Durness, Balnakeil Farm
Description: Rectangular wooden trough with flat handles at each end, containing a shrunken lump of bog-butter, from Durness, Sutherland
Remains of bog-butter in a trough, found at Balnakeil Farm, Durness, Sutherland
  • Earwood, Caroline. Two early historic bog butter containers. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities of Scotland, 121 (1991), pp 331-40. 
  • Hunter, F.J. Iron Age hoarding in Scotland and Northern England. In: Gwilt, A. and Haselgrove, C. (eds.). Reconstructing Iron Age Societies. Oxford: Oxbow Monograph 71, 1997, pp 108-33 
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