Incredible Roman bronze unearthed in Gloucestershire


A hoard of ancient Roman bronze artefacts discovered in Gloucestershire includes a unique sculpture of a ‘licking’ dog, never found before in Britain – and archaeologists have a fascinating theory about its origins and why it was hidden.

The discovery was made by a local metal detectorist who contacted the archaeology team.

The licking dog is an example of a healing statue, and may be linked to the Roman healing temple at Lydney.

However there is also the possibility that a previously undiscovered Roman temple may be sited elsewhere in Gloucestershire.

The artefacts appear to have been deliberately broken and hidden – with the exception of the dog statue, which, fortunately, remains intact. Archaeologists believe the items could have been stashed by a metal worker who intended to retrieve them at a later date in order to melt and re-cast them.

The artefacts are of such significance that they need to be kept under special conditions for insurance reasons, and are currently being stored at Bristol museum, where they are being photographed and catalogued on an online database.

Experts are piecing together the clues, and the findings will be presented by the British Museum at a launch event, likely to take place around the end of the year.

A catalogue of the items is being created, you can view it here:

Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure said: “How wonderful to have made such an astonishing discovery, and what a fantastic coup for Gloucestershire! The prospect of more hidden treasures buried here in the county is an exciting one indeed for local residents and historians alike Congratulations to Pete Cresswell on making this find and fitting another piece into the jigsaw puzzle of Gloucestershire’s rich heritage.”

Finder Pete Cresswell, who discovered the items with his brother in law Andrew Boughton, said: “It’s not every day you come across a hoard of roman bronze! We have been metal detecting for a combined 40 years, but this is a once in a lifetime discovery.

“As soon as I realised 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.”

Archaeologist Kurt Adams, Gloucestershire and Avon Finds Liaison Officer, said: “This Roman hoard dates to the 4th century and mostly contains items that have been deliberately broken, ranging from small vessel fittings to a large bronze statue. Most amazing of all is a complete and finely detailed standing dog statue, which is a unique find for British archaeology.”