March metal detectorists find ancient Celtic fertility figure which has been valued at more than £1,000

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“This male figure with its hinged oversized phallus would have had symbolic powers of good luck and warding off evil spirits”

A metal detectorist from March is looking forward to a holiday after finding an ancient fertility figure buried in a field.

Paul Shepheard (69) was searching a field in Lincolnshire last year when he discovered the five and a half centimetre tall figure – which has an oversized phallus which is hinged for movement.

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Now the bronze figure, which is around 2,000 years old, is set to go under the hammer on March 8 – with an estimate of between £800 and £1,200.

Paul and the figurinePaul and the figurine
Paul and the figurine

Paul initially thought the figure was a split pin, designed to retain wheels on farm carts, which Paul knew as he loved to restore farming equipment when he was younger.

But after examining it further, he said he saw the figure’s face – and realised it was something more significant.

He 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!”

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

Nigel Mills, Consultant (Coins and Artefacts) at auctioneers Noonans, who are running the sale, said: “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.”

For more information about the sale, or to see other items going under auction, visit