21 July 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

İnteresting Relief on the Roman Millstone

During the Cambridgeshire A14 road improvement work, workers found an interesting millstone. A large penis was engraved in the Roman-era millstone.

It is known that such reliefs were made for luck and abundance in the Roman period.

Archaeologists said the carving may have been intended to give protective properties to the millstone and to the flour it produced.

Steve Sherlock, Highways England’s Archaeology lead for the A14, said the phallus was seen as an “important image of strength and virility in the Roman world” and was believed to give good luck.

The new road opened in May last year, and there were many archaeological finds during the project including a woolly mammoth tusk. There were also woolly rhino skulls, an abandoned medieval village and the earliest evidence of beer brewing in Britain, dating back to as early as 400 BC.

Mr Sherlock said the millstone is important as it “adds to the evidence for such images from Roman Britain”.

“There were known associations between images of the phallus and milling, such as those found above the bakeries of Pompeii, one inscribed with Hic Habitat Felicitas – You Will Find Happiness Here,” he said.

“The phallus was seen as an important image of strength and virility in the Roman world, with it being common practice for legionaries to wear a phallus amulet, which would give them good luck before battle.”

Dr Ruth Shaffrey of Oxford Archaeology with the rare Roman millstone. (Highways England/ PA)
Dr Ruth Shaffrey of Oxford Archaeology with the rare Roman millstone. (Highways England/ PA)

Archaeologist MOLA Headland Infrastructure and its partner Oxford Archaeology examined the millstone.

They discovered two crosses inscribed on the circumference of the quern, a simple hand mill for grinding corn, typically consisting of two circular stones.

They also found the phallus carving on its upper face.

The millstone had been broken during its use and was then adapted, which preserved the carvings as it was then reversed to be used as a saddle quern, one of the bed stones used in the grinding process, hiding the genital carving.

More than 300 querns and millstones were recovered during archaeological work on the A14 project.

Decorated querns and millstones of any date are extremely rare, with only four such Roman millstones discovered from around a total of 20,000 nationwide.

While crosses on such stones are more prevalent, these tend to be found only at military sites.

Dr Ruth Shaffrey, from Oxford Archaeology, said: “As one of only four known examples of Romano-British millstones decorated this way, the A14 millstone is a highly significant find.

“It offers insights into the importance of the mill to the local community and to the protective properties bestowed upon the millstone and its produce (the flour) by the depiction of a phallus on its upper surface.”

Related Articles

From Researchers, a New İnterpretation of Norse Religion

26 February 2021

26 February 2021

Recent research on pre-Christian Norse religions shows that the variation in Norse religions is far greater than previously imagined. Ten...

Archaeology team discovers a 7,000-year-old and 13-hectare settlement in Serbia

30 April 2024

30 April 2024

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown Late Neolithic settlement near the Tamiš River in Northeast Serbia. The discovery was made...

Archaeologists identify three new Roman camps in Arabia

27 April 2023

27 April 2023

Through remote sensing analysis, archaeologists have identified three new Roman fortified camps throughout northern Arabia. Their study, released today in...

Anglo-Saxon monasteries were more resilient to Viking attacks than thought

31 January 2023

31 January 2023

Researchers from the University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology have found new evidence that Anglo-Saxon monastic communities were more resistant...

11,000-Year-Old LSU Campus Mounds Are Oldest Known Human-Made Structures In North America

23 August 2022

23 August 2022

According to new research published in the American Journal of Science, two six-meter (20-foot) high mounds on the campus of...

Construction Workers Discovered Ancient Sarcophagus in Turkey

2 March 2021

2 March 2021

On Monday, reports said that during excavations in the Seyitgazi region of Eskisehir Province in northwestern Turkey, municipal staff unexpectedly...

One of its kind, 1,500-year-old Roman ‘Lorica Squamata’ legion armor restored

19 June 2024

19 June 2024

The 1,500-year-old Roman ‘Lorica Squamata’ legion armor, the only known example in the world, found in the ancient city of...

A 1,300-year-old necklace is the ‘richest of its type ever uncovered in Britain’

6 December 2022

6 December 2022

Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) archaeologists have found a “once-in-a-lifetime” 1,300-year-old gold and gemstone necklace dating back to 630-670 AD...

Turkey’s Urartian Altıntepe Castle transforms into open museum

25 May 2022

25 May 2022

Altıntepe Castle, one of the most important centers of the Urartians and the Eastern Roman Empire, is now set to...

Archaeologists have discovered a treasure trove of sixth-century coins in ancient Phanagoria in Russia

27 July 2021

27 July 2021

Archaeologists have discovered 80 coins known as Copper staters dating back to the sixth century at Phanagoria on the Black...

A hungry Badger uncovers the largest collection of such coins ever discovered in northern Spain

11 January 2022

11 January 2022

Archaeologists have uncovered a rich trove of 209 Roman-era coins in northwestern Spain, due to the apparent efforts of a...

New insight into the history of human presence in Paveh county, Kermanshah province, which is located in western Iran

22 August 2021

22 August 2021

Stone tools and animal bones unearthed recently have thrown new insight into the history of human presence in Paveh county,...

Evidence of a 1500-year-old Byzantine church found on the beach of Ashdod, Israel

22 February 2022

22 February 2022

Recent rain in Israel has unearthed the remains of a marble pillar dating to around 1,500 years ago on a...

Scientists find the oldest evidence of humans in Israel -a 1.5 million-year-old Human vertebra

3 February 2022

3 February 2022

An international group of Israeli and American researchers, an ancient human vertebra has been uncovered in Israel’s Jordan Valley that...

New evidence for early regional exchanges in Eurasia: Ice skates made of animal bones over 3,000 years old

9 March 2023

9 March 2023

Chinese archaeologists have discovered ancient ice skates made of animal bones at the Gaotai Ruins in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous...