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Pagans Hill : deity and Cult

The artefacts yielded by the excavations comprised predominantly coins, ceramics and animal bones, the latter seemingly the product of daily life rather than sacrifice. There was little direct evidence of rituals practised at the site or of votives left by worshippers. The well, on an axis with the temple and with the eastern gate, may have served as a source for water in rituals, as well as for everyday requirements.

The curse tablets do not identify the deity. An alternative clue comes from four sculptural fragments, parts of the torso of a seated dog with a jewelled collar perhaps originally c. 0.8m in height. Believed at the time of excavation to date to the 15th or 16th centuries, re-evaluation suggests a Roman date. Dogs are sometimes associated with the god Apollo in healing cults across the Roman world, being perhaps suitable spirit guides to those in the grip of a healing trance. Images of dogs were frequent at Lydney for example, where a healing connection has also been proposed (see Lydney: deity and cult), though there the resident deity was Nodens. The octagonal form of the Pagan's Hill temple is shared by the temple of Nettleton Shrub in Wiltshire. Inscriptions at Nettleton Shrub name the god, Apollo Cunomaglos. The name 'Cunomaglos' might be that of an indigenous deity to whom Apollo was paired: in Rome's north-western provinces such links were common (see Cursing for beginners: people goods and gods: deities). Alternatively 'Cunomaglos' was a title of the god, perhaps meaning 'hound lord' in the local Celtic language. However the canine iconography might be associated with hunting rather than healing. Perhaps the statue was part of a larger composition: a sculpture from Southwark for example with a hound also includes a hunter and a deer.

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