Nude figure with hinged phallus to be sold at auction
A detectorist who found a bronze Celtic artefact of a nude figure with a hinged phallus in its right hand hopes to sell the item at auction to pay for a holiday.
Paul Shepheard, 69, was at a detector rally in Haconby, Lincolnshire in 2022 when he made the find in a stubble field.
The retired processing consultant, from March, Cambridgeshire, said his wife Joanne had just found a medieval penny when he got a signal on his new XP Deus II metal detector.
He said he dug 10 inches into the earth and initially thought he had found a large steel split pin commonly used to retain wheels on farm carts.
But when he looked more closely, he saw the outline of a face and realised it was more significant.
The artefact is a bronze nude figure with an oversized phallus, which it holds in its right hand, which is hinged for movement.
The item, which is 5.5cm high and 1.2cm wide, is to be sold at auction at Noonans in Mayfair, London, where it has a pre-auction estimate of £800 to £1,200.
Nigel Mills, consultant (coins and artefacts) at Noonans, said: “Dating to the Celtic period from the 1st century AD, this is a representation of a fertility god, probably based on the Roman god Mercury as he is holding a purse in his left hand.
“This male figure with its hinged oversized phallus would have had symbolic powers of good luck and warding off evil spirits and may have served as a locking mechanism, as a buckle to hold a belt and scabbard for a sword.
“There is nothing quite like it, I am hoping it will attract a lot of attention.”
Mr Shepheard, who has been a detectorist for 25 years, said: “What I love about metal-detecting is that absolute surprise of what you find, and this certainly came out of the blue!
“We initially thought it was Roman as the military wore phallic pendants but they did not have moving parts, so to speak, but this was designed by the Celts who have added a hinged element making it very artistic which perhaps made their feelings even more obvious.
“We hope to use the proceeds from the sale to pay for a holiday for my wife and her mother.”
The item will be offered for sale as part of a two-day sale of ancient coins and antiquities at Noonans on Wednesday and Thursday, March 8 and 9.