IT’S the most significant archaeological discovery in the Portsmouth area for many years.
Buried a few feet under a garden in the centre of Havant, archaeologists stumbled upon a Roman well filled with coins and a bronze ring with a carving of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.
Perhaps most intriguing was the discovery of eight dog skeletons at the bottom of the well.
Experts believe the dogs, which were worshipped in some ancient religions, may have been dropped down the ‘sacred well’ as a sacrifice to the gods.
The excavation was done at Homewell House, a Georgian property behind St Faith’s Church that is undergoing renovation.
Dr Andy Russel, from Southampton Archaeology Unit, told The News: ‘I would say it’s a pretty amazing find.
‘We have done a few sites in Havant before and found Roman bits and pieces but nothing on this scale of a beautifully constructed well with coins, a ring and this strange deposit of dogs in it.
‘I’ve never come across a deposit of dogs down a Roman pit or well before – it’s intriguing.’
The well, dated at between 250 and 280AD, is made of stone from the Isle of Wight.
Dr Russel added: ‘We have found post holes where people have put up buildings in the posts. There’s no sign of stone buildings. This is not a Fishbourne Roman Palace. Wooden buildings probably made up the settlement.’
The dogs showed wounds that had healed, indicating they may have been used for dog fighting.
Archaeologists believe the ring may have been dropped down the well by a Roman sailor, perhaps praying for safe passage home on the stormy seas.