Two metal detecting hobbyists in rural England discovered this Roman ‘licking dog’ statue

Two metal detecting hobbyists have made a “once-in-a-lifetime discovery” of Roman artefacts in rural England – including a remarkably well-preserved miniature sculpture of a dog.

Brothers-in-law Pete Cresswell and Andrew Boughton stumbled onto a hoard of bronze artworks while metal detecting in an undisclosed location in the Gloucestershire, according to a statement from the county council.

Most of the items in the hoard, which include statues, chests, and plaques, appeared to have been deliberately destroyed before they were disposed of.

The exception is this “licking dog” statue, which remained intact. Here it is:

Licking dog artefact Gloucestershire

Eve Andreski via Portable Antiquities Scheme

The fourth-century sculpture – measuring 21.4 cm long, 13.4 high, and 5 cm wide – was a healing statue and the only example of its kind found in Britain, Gloucestershire County Council said.

Archaeologists say the stash could either be linked to the Roman healing temple in Lydney, a riverside town near where the dog ws found, or could point toward an undiscovered Roman temple elsewhere in the county.

Because all the items appeared to be deliberately hidden, archaeologists also suggested that they were stashed away by a metal worker who planned to melt and re-cast them later on.

“It’s not every day you come across a hoard of Roman bronze!” Cresswell said, as cited by the council’s statement. “We have been metal detecting for a combined 40 years, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”

Cresswell and Boughton’s findings are currently being stored at Bristol Museum. Experts analysing the items plan to present their findings at a launch event at the British Museum later this year.

Metal detecting is a popular pastime among hobbyists who carry a device on walks to find hidden treasures, and many hobbyists have stumbled onto ancient coins, jewellery, and other buried items.

Southwestern Britain is a popular region among these enthusiasts, the BBC reported – so much so that about 90% of historical artefacts recently discovered in Wales were found by people with metal detectors.