Wooden Object Found at Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall May Be Earliest Example of a Wooden Phallus

A 2nd century wooden object discovered at Vindolanda, a Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall, initially believed to be a sewing tool, has turned out to be a potential sex toy.

The object, measuring around 6.2 inches, was found in a ditch with leather off-cuts and dozens of shoes, along with other small tools and accessories.

Experts from Newcastle University and University College Dublin analyzed the object and discovered that both ends were noticeably smoother, indicating repeated use over time.

Dr. Rob Collins, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Newcastle University, stated that the object might be an example of a sexual implement used by the ancient Romans and Greeks.


Phalli were commonplace in the Roman Empire and were believed to offer protection against bad luck. They were often depicted in art, carved into pottery, or worn as jewelry pendants made of bone or metal.

While the wooden object from Vindolanda may be the earliest example of a wooden phallus found in the ex-Roman Empire, experts have not ruled out the possibility that it could have been a good luck symbol or a tool to grind ingredients.


The object’s shape could have been thought to add perceived magical properties, and it could have been slotted into a statue and rubbed for good luck.

Barbara Birley, curator at the Vindolanda Trust, where the object is now on display, stated that the wooden phallus may be unique in its survival from this time.

Still, it is unlikely to have been the only one of its kind used at the site, along the frontier, or in Roman Britain.

The object’s display at the Vindolanda Trust has generated considerable interest, with many visitors expressing surprise and amusement.

The revelation about its potential use as a sex toy adds an exciting and somewhat titillating dimension to our understanding of life in Roman times.