Rude graffiti by Roman soldiers near Hadrian’s Wall shows nothing ever changes

The new discoveries of carvings made by soldiers quarrying stone to repair Hadrian’s Wall include a phallus – a Roman good luck symbol, experts say.
The new discoveries of carvings made by soldiers quarrying stone to repair Hadrian’s Wall include a phallus – a Roman good luck symbol, experts say.

Most of us think of straight roads and serious, toga-clad politicians when we think of the Romans – but it turns out the Romans in Britain were a smutty bunch.

Archaeologists investigating a stone quarry near Hadrian’s Wall found a depiction of male genitals carved into a wall – along with jokes about a commanding officer.

Phalluses (a depiction of an erect penis) denoted good luck in Roman culture, the experts believe.

The ‘Written Rock of Gelt’ was found in a quarry which supplied stone to the wall, and dates from 207AD, when the wall was undergoing a major renovation.

The new discoveries of carvings made by soldiers quarrying stone to repair Hadrian’s Wall include a phallus – a Roman good luck symbol, experts say.
The new discoveries of carvings made by soldiers quarrying stone to repair Hadrian’s Wall include a phallus – a Roman good luck symbol, experts say.

Researchers will now use laser scanners to take imprints of the graffiti so it’s preserved, the researchers said.

The new discoveries of carvings made by soldiers quarrying stone to repair Hadrian’s Wall include a phallus – a Roman good luck symbol, experts say.
The new discoveries of carvings made by soldiers quarrying stone to repair Hadrian’s Wall include a phallus – a Roman good luck symbol, experts say.

Mike Collins, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Hadrian’s Wall at Historic England said, ‘These inscriptions at Gelt Forest are probably the most important on the Hadrian’s Wall frontier.

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‘They provide insight into the organisation of the vast construction project that Hadrian’s Wall was, as well as some very human and personal touches, such as the caricature of their commanding officer inscribed by one group of soldiers.

Ian Haynes, Professor of Archaeology at Newcastle University said, ‘These inscriptions are very vulnerable to further gradual decay. This is a great opportunity to record them as they are in 2019, using the best modern technology to safeguard the ability to study them into the future.’

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