A child raised on dungeons and dragons and underground empires might have been enchanted.

But Virgil Poe, a crusty 60-year-old retiree, wasn't all that amused when recent heavy rains opened a 16-foot hole in his yard.

The cylindrical hole is lined with bricks, suggesting it might have been the water supply for an old farm.

"I'm picking up sticks from the storm," Poe said. "As I was walking, I saw it, and I thought what on earth is that?"

He crawled closer to the hole, peered inside and found what looked like an old well.

"If I had dropped in, I don't think anyone would have found me until I started stinking," Poe said.

The cylindrical hole is lined with bricks, suggesting it might have been the water supply for an old farm in this suburban Anne Arundel County community. Its diameter was about the size of a trash can at the top, but it widened as it descended.

Poe showed the hole to neighbors and offered to toss in their misbehaving children -- or Doberman pinschers.

Virgil Poe looks at a well that opened in his yard.

He called the county's archaeologist to come have a look and cordoned off the area with yellow caution tape -- thinking all the while of the number of times in the last 20 years he went over the area with a riding mower.

He poked and probed the hole with a long bamboo pole that he uses for bait fishing, figuring that if he slipped and fell in he could wave the pole around until someone rescued him.

And since a friend once found Civil War coins, Poe even considered climbing down to look for lost treasure.

County archaeologist Al Luckenbach said similar tales arise about once every two years.

"That's probably a well," Luckenbach said. "They build these subdivisions over old farms. Sometimes they seal the wells, sometimes they cover them with dirt. Sometimes, they don't even know they're there. Then a storm hits it the right way and boom. They have big holes in their yards."

Poe said the explanation makes sense, but he's still wary. He's been eyeing other sections of the lawn that look a little droopy.