Discovered within a sizeable hoard of Roman bronze artefacts, this expressive standing hound is a rare example of a healing statue in the form of a dog. Its short legs join the elongated body with distinctively engraved haunches, each styled with chevrons or feathered patterning. Engraved fur similarly details the hind haunches, genitals, and each clawed paw. Throughout antiquity, dogs were considered to possess healing properties. As a result, the dog was often depicted as a companion of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine; in the Roman pantheon they were linked to the healing aspect of Mars; and in some Celtic rituals, 'licking dog' figures were dedicated to the local healing god Nodens.
Seven dogs of comparable subject and function were excavated from an Iron Age temple of Nodens at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, cf. R.E.M. Wheeler and T.V. Wheeler, Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, London, 1932, pp. 88-89, pl. 25. Since the present dog's find spot is in the same region as the Lydney temple, it may have once been a dedication at this site, or left at another site yet to be discovered by archaeologists. Although the species and style of the present piece bear similarities to figures found at Lydney and Llys Awel respectively, the present dog has no known parallel in Roman Britain, either by size or richness of decoration.
Among the remainder of the hoard (the entirety of which is included in the present lot) is a bronze face fragment from a statuette. The size of the fragment indicates that the original complete figure may have been connected to the bronze dog in some way. Bronze fragments of drapery hint at a much larger bronze statue over three feet high, which had been broken prior to the deposition of the hoard. The presence of a follis of Crispus, minted at Trier with a globe-on-altar reverse, proves that the hoard could not have been buried before 321 A.D. - the earliest this type of coin had been minted. The eclectic variety of artefacts in the hoard suggests that it may have been deposited with the intention of later recovering and melting the contents.