Roman millstone with 2,000-year-old engraving of penis to go on display

The phallus millstone that will be on display at the Godmanchester Museum.

The phallus millstone that will be on display at the Godmanchester Museum. - Credit: KATE HADLEY

Archaeologists are to present a Roman millstone discovered as part of the A14 excavations in Godmanchester – decorated with an engraving of a penis!

Back in February, The Hunts Post revealed experts discovered hundreds of flour-making devices while digging for artefacts during the construction of the £1.5 billion upgrade of the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge – but there was one with a particularly eye-catching difference.

It was said that people living in Roman times associated the phallus with strength and virility, and similar images were worn for good luck when men went into battle. Experts believe the carving also shows that millers were early exponents of recycling because the stone had been broken at some stage and was adapted into a different form of flour-maker and whetstone, helping to preserve the genital carving.

Kate Hadley with the phallus millstone that will be on display at the Godmanchester Museum. 

Kate Hadley with the phallus millstone that will be on display at the Godmanchester Museum. - Credit: KATE HADLEY

Out of 20,000 Roman millstones present on the Roman Province database, there are only four which bear a carved phallus.

The acquisition, along with another stone found in Stowe Longa, will be showcased on Saturday, July 31 at 2.30pm outside the Queen Elizabeth School in Godmanchester, with the town’s mayor, Cllr Cliff Thomas, officially welcoming the rare artefact.

Special guests will include archaeologist Dr Ruth Shaffrey, who will explain the stone’s rarity and significance, while a representative of the Norris Museum, based in St Ives, and member of St Ives Town Council are also due to attend.

The stone will be on show in The Godmanchester Museum display for the rest of the year, with its curator, Kate Hadley, particularly thrilled at welcoming the artefact home.

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“The stone represents powerful good magic, so hopefully it may bring extra good magic to Godmanchester.

“Roman people lived by magic every day of their lives; they got a lot of strength from it. The millstone, obviously linked with bread and beer-making, had its own magical powers: bread formed 70 per cent of the Roman diet and soldiers were often paid with bread.

Beer was also important because water could make people ill, so the millstone brought good magic to bread and beer, promising a good harvest and being smiled upon by the gods.”

The eye-opening occasion will be accompanied by display boards about Roman ‘phallic magic’.


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