Archaeologists uncover 2,000-year-old penis pendant in Kent ‘Significant national find’

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Metal detectorist Wendy Thompson found the silver pendant buried eight inches under the ground in a farm in Kent. The silver penis measured 1.2 inches long (31mm), weighing just 9.7 grams and is a rare artefact, as only one other such silver pendant has been found in the UK. The archaeologists who later analysed the object believe that the pendant may have had superstitious symbolism attached to it, and may have been worn by children to prevent harm.

Wendy, 73, a retired estate agent, said: “It was only a tiny thing really. We were just as normal, covering a field up and down with a metal detector.

“I turned over this spade of earth and there it was, about eight inches down, I guess.

“I thought it was about 2,000 years old and it was.”

While the reports have not pinpointed an exact year, researchers date the object back to between 43AD and 410AD, during the Roman era.

A report on the object stated: “It is likely that this pendant is depicting a flaccid macrophallus, rather than an erect one, with the possibility that, rather than representing the ability to target and defeat the evil eye, a lack of control and an almost barbaric sexuality is suggested.

“The archaeological contexts of stratified examples, along with phallic wall carvings, such as at Hadrian’s wall, suggest a close association with military sites.

“This is supported by written evidence with Pliny attributing the phallus to the embodiment of Fascinus, the guardian of infants and generals.”

In ancient Rome, phallic imagery was commonly used to signify power and virility, with soldiers wearing fist-and-phallus amulets for luck in battle.

The researchers continued: “The association of the phallus with children is also mentioned by Varro who noted ‘a certain indecent object that is hung on the neck of boys to prevent harm coming to them…’.

“The archaeological evidence also supports this association between children and phallic pendants, with five ‘fist-and-phallus’ pendants being recovered from a single infant inhumation at Catterick and a horned phallus amulet found in an infant burial in Colchester.

“This object is the first silver example of its class purported to be discovered and thus a significant national find.”

Wendy said that the law requires metal detectorists to report their findings within 14 days.

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She added: “That is what every metal detectorist hates because you know you are going to lose sight of that object for years.”

She is still waiting for the pendant to be valued and once it is sold the money will be split between her and the landowner, as is common practice.

However, the money is not what drives her enthusiasm for digging up ancient objects.

She said: “I’m not after the money but it is nice to see it sold for its value.

“I don’t find things because they are valuable, it’s because of the history and you know that somebody once had that object. It’s magical really.”

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