Metal detectorist discovers well-endowed 1st Century Celtic fertility pin

Paul Shepheard/Cover Images

Detectorist Paul Shepheard discovered a Celtic fertility pin from the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in a field in Lincolnshire.

It was at a detecting rally in Haconby in 2022 that Paul Shepheard was searching a stubble field with his wife Joanne.

Digging down 10 inches he uncovered what he thought was a large steel split pin commonly used to retain wheels on farm carts, which Paul knew as he loved to restore farming equipment when he was younger.

After looking more closely, he saw the outline of a face and realised it was more significant. In fact, it was a bronze nude figure holding in his right hand an oversized phallus which is hinged for movement.

Measuring 5.5cm high by 1.2cm wide, it will be offered at Noonans in a two-day sale of Ancient Coins and Antiquities on 8 and 9 March with an estimate of £800-£1,200.

As 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."

Paul, 69, added, "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!"

He continued: "We hope to use the proceeds from the sale to pay for a holiday for my wife and her mother."