LIN-2BE126: Roman copper alloy phallic amulet

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Unique ID: LIN-2BE126

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

An incomplete cast copper alloy phallic amulet of a type strongly associated with the early Roman military. The amulet has an incomplete rectangular body that has a side wall 6mm in length tapering to the break. The side wall is decorated with diagonal grooves. The body has a circular hole in the centre, though only half of this remains. From one end projects a flat plate with a downturned terminal. The terminal is in the form of a hand, clearly showing five fingers with the index finger slightly extended, making the 'manus fica' gesture. The 'manus fico' (literally 'fig sign') is a gesture made with the hand and fingers curled and the thumb thrust between the middle and index fingers. In Roman culture this was a sign of fertility or good luck and would have warded off the evil eye. Phallic amulets were popular items amongst the Roman army. Three other phallic amulets of this type are known from Britain. One was discovered in Flavian context at Newgate Street in London, another was discovered at the site of the ealy fortress at York in a context dating to the end of the first - early second century AD (Cool etc, 1995, p1538, fig.717), and final example was discovered in the amphitheatre at Chester. The finds report for the York example cites further examples known on the continent, including two complete examples amongst the collections of bronzes at Vienne, Dauphine (Boucher, 1971, 101, no.63 with pl.), and Lyons (Boucher, 1973, 178, 44, no.250, fig.20). Other bronze phallic amulets are known from Lincolnshire, along with sculpures in stone such as one set in the wall adjacent to Newport Arch in Lincoln, and a stone carving of a phallus and vagina from Braceby, Lincolnshire (LIN-CFA375).

Find of note status

This has been noted as an interesting find by the recorder.

Class: Phallic


Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Early
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 75
Date to: Circa AD 120

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 42 mm
Width: 20 mm
Thickness: 6 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 1st February 2009

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Adam Daubney
Identified by: Dr Adam Daubney

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Lincolnshire (County)
District: North Kesteven (District)
To be known as: Wellingore

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 100 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LIN
Created: 9 years ago
Updated: 7 years ago

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