The earliest devices used to make butter were simply animal skins. They were used as bags, and cream could be agitated within those bags simply by shaking them around. Some were swung on an apparatus made of sticks, like the one in the picture below:
The dash or plunger kind of butter churn (the type our mystery artifact might have been used in) has only been around since the sixth century according to most. This artifact, found in Scotland, which has been determined to be a butter churn's lid, seems to confirm that fact.
Another kind of barrel churn turns end-over-end with the use of a crank on the side. They provided a much quicker way to make butter. They also did so without the use of anything like a dasher or paddle agitating the cream within the churn.
|An end-over-end barrel churn.|
One last type of butter churn is the rocker churn. These also did not require anything to move the cream around. They can really be seen as a more modern and sophisticated version of the ancient animal skin method of churning butter.
|These rocked back and forth with the help of the wires on either side.|
I could go on and on about all the different types of butter churns there are in the world(yes, there's more!), but you probably get the idea. People had many ideas about how to make this food, and they all worked on the principle of moving things around to separate the buttermilk from the butter fat. Still, the most ubiquitous type is the kind the mystery artifact would be used in.