Recently a couple of guys with metal detectors were doing their thing in Gloucester, England, when they were surprised to come across a cache of broken bronze artifacts. These pieces were from the time when ancient Romans had colonized Britain. Archeologists think that the pieces had most likely been purposely broken down by a metal smith who was planning to melt them down for reuse. There was one unbroken piece in the cache -- that was of a licking dog.

Roman Licking Dog
Roman Licking Dog

The detailed bronze work has the dog on all four paws with its mouth open and its tongue hanging out in a friendly fashion. It is definitely the star of the find since this is the first time that one of these statues has ever been found in Britain. The archaeologists believe that the dog is a healing statue that may have come from a temple that has yet to be discovered. A more likely scenario is that it came from a temple called Nodens that has already been discovered in the small town of Lydney in Gloucestershire. Other dog statues have been found in the Lydney area, but none of the licking variety.

In ancient Rome dogs were considered healing spirits since the licking of their own wounds would aid in healing. Dogs were also believed to be able to see ghosts -- in particular they were able to see the goddess Trivia who was the queen of ghosts. She was said to sneak up on people silently to prey upon them but dogs would be aware of her first and the dogs would bark to scare her away. That was how they explained how dogs often seemed to bark at nothing.

The cache has been dated to around the 4th century A.D. It is being studied by archaeologists and their findings will be displayed at the British Museum later this year. The exact location of the find is being kept secret to avoid a stampede of treasure hunters trampling the countryside.

Sources: Science Alert, Ancient History Encyclopedia, Wikipedia