Haconby Celtic Fertility Figure

A bronze male nude figure dating to 1st century AD, holding in his right hand an oversized phallus which is hinged for movement.

Paul Shepheard and wife Joanne.
Photo © Noonans

The figure was found by detectorist of 25 years, Paul Shepheard. He was detecting in a stubble field with his wife Joanne as part of a rally in Haconby, Lincolnshire in 2022. Joanne had just found a Medieval penny when Paul got a signal on his new Deus II. On digging down about 10 inches he found what at first was a split pin.He then saw the outline of a face and realised it was something more significant.

Paul 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!

Nigel Mills, Consultant (Coins and Artefacts) at Noonans commented: “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.” 

Pauls said: “We hope to use the proceeds from the sale to pay for a holiday for my wife and her mother.

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