Metal detecting requires a lot of patience. You'll probably unearth a fair number of nails, pull tabs, and discarded pennies, but there's also the potential to stumble across something a whole lot more interesting, like these two very lucky detectorists from Gloucestershire, in the UK, did.
Pete Cresswell and his brother-in-law Andrew Broughton recently uncovered a hoard of Ancient Roman treasure dating back to the fourth century. The find was discovered in the south-west county of Gloucestershire but its precise location remains under wraps.
The hoard contained an assortment of bronze artifacts ranging from vessel fittings to a large bronze statue, most of which had been broken down into small pieces. Archaeologists believe the breakage was deliberate and could have been the handiwork of a metal worker who planned to melt and recast the bronze later on.
But there is one object in the hoard that has remained completely intact for reasons that are unclear. The star of the show is an intricately detailed, one-of-a-kind "licking" dog. The four-legged beast stands upright with its mouth open and his tongue lolling out. Archaeologists say it's the first time anything like it has been found in Britain.
"Most amazing of all is a complete and finely detailed standing dog statue, which is a unique find for British archaeology,” Kurt Adams, the Gloucestershire and Avon finds liaison officer, told reporters.br
They think it is a healing statue, which could have come from an as of yet undiscovered Roman temple. But the archaeologists say it is most likely linked to a Roman temple at Lydney.
Random fact: JRR Tolkien visited an archaeological dig on the site of the temple at Lydney back in 1929, when he was working on The Hobbit. According to rumors, soon after the Romans left, many local people forgot they were there to begin with. They thought the ruins were home to little people, dwarfs, and hobgoblins. Many think this was Tolkien's inspiration for the Shire.
“It’s not every day you come across a hoard of Roman bronze," said Creswell, commenting on his incredible find.
“We have been metal detecting for a combined 40 years, but this is a once in a lifetime discovery. As soon as I realized the items were of historical significance I contacted the local archaeology team, who were equally excited by the find.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to contribute to local and British history.”
Archaeologists are investigating the hoard and plan to present their findings at a launch at the British Museum later this year.
In the meantime, the hoard is being housed at Bristol Museum, where it is being kept under special conditions for insurance reasons.