Metal detecting doesn't always turn up something remarkable. Now and then, however, it can turn up something amazing—like a hoard of ancient Roman artifacts.
A broken-off piece of a statue [Photo by Eve Andreski]
Metal detectorists in Gloucestershire, England made the awesome life-changing discovery after about 40 years of metal detecting, a hobby that certainly requires a lot of patience. Most of the time, you'd find bits and piece of useless scraps, but now and then, you'd come across something interesting. “Interesting”, however, is quite an understatement for what brothers-in-law Pete Cresswell and Andrew Boughton found.
Some of the broken pieces in the hoard [Photo by Eve Andreski]
Archaeologists say that the discovery is a first in the country's history. Cresswell and Boughton stumbled upon a trove of Roman artifacts that have never before been found in Britain. The hoard dated back to the fourth century, and included artifacts like a broken bronze statue, vessel fittings, and a completely intact statue of a dog. Interestingly, the broken artifacts seem to have been deliberately destroyed and hidden.
An intact, lifelike statue of a dog [Photo by the Gloucestershire County Council/PA]
This is certainly an interesting aspect to the discovery. Why would anyone break these artifacts and then stash them away, presumably to secure them? Experts say that a metal worker may have meant to take the broken pieces of bronze and melt them down later to create something new.
“It’s not every day you come across a hoard of Roman bronze," says Creswell. “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.”
What's still unclear, however, is why the dog statue remained whole while the other artifacts were broken. The statue shows exquisite detail, and is so well-made that it gives off the vibe of the happy, energetic, playful dog that it portrays. The dog statue has an open mouth, perhaps portraying licking or panting, and its posture shows the taut, expectant vitality of a playing dog. Archaeologists say that the statue is unique among other Roman artifacts discovered in Britain.
“It’s a great privilege to be able to contribute to local and British history,” Cresswell continues.
Photo by Eve Andreski
Archaeologists also also say that statue may have been a healing statue that belonged to an as-of-yet undiscovered temple somewhere in the area. However, it's also possible that the statue once stood in a Roman temple discovered in Lydney.
As of now, the artifacts are safe and sound at the Bristol Museum. Archaeologists are keeping the exact location of the excavation site under wraps, but they do plan on studying the artifacts and presenting their findings at the British Museum within this year.
If anything, the discovery shows that metal detecting may at times be a fruitless hobby, but now and then it can be incredibly rewarding.
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