A Romano-British Licking Dog Statue

Antiquities specialist Claudio Corsi looks at an ancient bronze licking dog, the rarest object from a complete hoard of Roman bronze artefacts found by metal detectorists in England in 2017. On a Bank Holiday Sunday in August 2017 two metal detectorists, with a combined 40 years’ experience, stumbled across one of the most intriguing hoards of Roman artefacts to be discovered in Britain in recent memory. Under the cultivated earth of a farmer’s field in Gloucestershire in south-west England, the pair discovered an unusual deposit of broken hinges, buckles and studs, as well as 20 fragments of a four-foot tall bronze figure, pieces of cast animal-shaped bowls, half a pair of tweezers and the handle of a frying pan. Additionally, there was a coin minted in Trier in Germany between 321-324 AD featuring a portrait of the Roman Emperor Crispus, the eldest son of the Emperor Constantine. The date of the coin provided a date after which the hoard must have been buried. Among the find there was one object which had miraculously survived intact — a bronze statue of a ‘licking’ dog, the only example ever found in Britain.

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