Lincolnshire

Roman penis carving to go on display in Lincoln

Phallus carving from the front and side Image copyright The Collection
Image caption The carving is in relief and shows an erect penis pointing towards a shape above, which might represent either a vagina or an evil eye

A Roman carving of a phallus is to go on public display for the first time after being used as a garden ornament for 20 years.

The limestone carving was dug up in a garden in the Lincolnshire village of Braceby in 1995.

The family that found it have donated it to The Collection museum in Lincoln, where it will be exhibited sometime in the new year.

The museum's Antony Lee said Romans had an "obsession" with phallic imagery.

Image copyright The Collection
Image caption Phallic pendants like this, found in Sudbrooke, were appropriate to wear as jewellery

"It's a prevalent enough theme in Roman art and archaeology to be considered an obsession," he said.

"Although pornographic imagery clearly existed, phallic imagery was not intended for this purpose.

"The phallus was a symbol both of protection and of promoting good fortune, and therefore was an entirely appropriate image to wear as jewellery or to carve on a city wall or important building, even to hang around your newborn baby's neck."

Image copyright The Collection
Image caption The monumental Roman city walls in Lincoln had at least one phallic carving on them, such as this one on East Bight

He said the family that found the carving kept it as a garden ornament, but they are now moving away and wanted it to stay in Lincolnshire.

It was probably originally inserted into the wall of a building, he added.

"The carving on the face is in relief and consists of an erect phallus pointing upwards towards a shape above, clearly the focus of the phallus' attention, and which might represent either a vagina or an evil eye," Mr Lee said.

Image copyright The Collection
Image caption This carving of a man riding a winged phallus was found in Long Bennington

The evil eye often appeared alongside phallic imagery in Roman art as the phallus warded against it.

The monumental Roman city walls at Lincoln had at least one phallic carving on them, adding spiritual protection.

The museum already houses examples of phallic bone and copper alloy pendants, a greyware ceramic spout and even a carving from Long Bennington of a man riding a winged phallus.

Image copyright The Collection
Image caption The museum's collections and displays also include this Roman fist and phallus pendant

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