Naughty ancient Roman message found engraved in Hadrian's Wall stone

The team at Hadrian's Wall say this is the 13th phallus uncovered at the dig site. Credit: The Vindolanda Charitable Trust

It is the sort of 'artwork' often spotted on toilet doors and the inside of bus stops, but it seems that 2,000 years ago, Roman soldiers were some of the earliest adopters of insulting graffiti.

A giant phallus carving has been uncovered at Hadrian's Wall, showcasing a historic row between two Roman soldiers.

In a fascinating glimpse into Roman humour, soldier Secundinus was branded a 'sh**ter' alongside the large carving.

Reading 'SECVNDINVS CACOR' in Latin ('Secundinus the Sh**ter'), the discovery of the personal insult was made on 19 May.

This year, we celebrated 1,900 years of Hadrian's Wall Credit: PA

Dr Andrew Birley, Director of Excavations and CEO of the Vindolanda Trust said: “The recovery of an inscription, a direct message from the past, is always a great event on a Roman excavation, but this one really raised our eyebrows when we deciphered the message on the stone.

"Its author clearly had a big problem with Secundinus and was confident enough to announce their thoughts publicly on a stone.

"I have no doubt that Secundinus would have been less than amused to see this when he was wandering around the site over 1,700 years ago”.

The Roman phallus is often seen as a good luck charm or symbol of fertility, a positive symbol. However, in this case, researchers say the author has cleverly taken its meaning and subverted it to their own aims.

The team at Hadrian's Wall say this is the 13th phallus uncovered at the dig site and they hope it will bring them luck as they try to discover more artefacts in the months ahead.