Experts believe a 2,000-year-old wooden object discovered in a Roman fort in Northumberland may have been a sex toy. Archaeologists had originally thought the 6.5 inch object was a darning tool but found it to be smooth at both ends. Senior lecturer in archaeology at Newcastle University, Dr Rob Collins, who worked on analysing the object alongside Dr Rob Sands from University College Dublin said phallic imagery was “all over the place in the Roman world” and that life-size examples of dildos existed in the literature and art from the time. However, examples of sex toys from that era made of materials that would not decompose are extremely rare.
The phallus was found in a ditch in 1992 at Vindolanda, among thousands of wooden objects, shoes, dress accessories and leather pieces. It was initially classified as a darning tool, probably because there were so many other items that required conservation before they started to decompose.
In addition to suggesting it may have been used as a dildo, Collins said other uses such as a pestle could not be ruled out. However, he added: “If it is a sexual implement, it’s nice to think that, you know, maybe there are people having fun up here on the frontier, and it’s not all dangerous barbarians or boredom while on patrol.”
The phallus will go on display at the Vindolanda Museum. The fort is one of the oldest and most significant Roman settlements in the UK, and contains the remains of military and civilian buildings as well as thousand-year-old letters and birthday party invitations.