Bronze nude figure with hinged phallus sells at auction for £2,200

The Celtic artefact was found by a detectorist at a rally in Haconby, Lincolnshire.

A bronze nude figure holding an oversized phallus in his right hand has sold at auction for £2,200 – around double its estimate.

Detectorist Paul Shepheard found the Celtic artefact, whose phallus is hinged for movement, at a detector rally in Haconby, Lincolnshire, in 2022.

The 69-year-old, from March, Cambridgeshire, said he plans to use the proceeds of the sale to pay for a holiday to the Greek island of Kos for his wife and her mother.

The retired processing consultant said his wife, Joanne, had just found a medieval penny when he then got a signal on his new XP Deus II metal detector.

Ancient Coins and Antiquities sale
A bronze Celtic artefact of a nude figure with a hinged phallus in its right hand sold for £2,200 at Noonans Ancient Coins and Antiquities sale (Noonans/PA)

He said he dug 10in (25cm) 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 and is hinged for movement.

The item, which is 2.2in (5.5cm) tall and 0.5in (1.2cm) wide, was sold at auction at Noonans in Mayfair, London, where it beat its pre-auction estimate of £800 to £1,200 – achieving a hammer price of £2,200.

Ancient Coins and Antiquities sale
Detectorist Paul Shepheard plans to use the proceeds of the sale to pay for a holiday for his wife and her mother (Paul Shepheard/PA)

Mr Shepheard, who has been detecting for 25 years, said afterwards: “We are really pleased with the price that the figure made.

“We really enjoy metal detecting and go out at least three times a week – nothing would stop us doing that!

“However, finding items like ours is a rare event and it was great to see how it sold and the interest it received.”

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.”