A VOLUNTEER was left shocked after discovering rude and explicit ancient Roman graffiti at a historic tourist site in Northumberland.

Dylan Herbert, a retired biochemist from Penarth, was astonished at the language and depiction he had discovered on a stone on his second week volunteering on the excavations at Vindolanda in Northumberland.

My Herbert thought nothing of the stone he had found until he had a closer look.

He said: “I’d been removing a lot of rubble all week and to be honest this stone had been getting in my way. I was glad when I was told I could take it out of the trench.

"It looked from the back like all the others, a very ordinary stone, but when I turned it over, I was startled to see some clear letters.

"Only after we removed the mud did I realise the full extent of what I’d uncovered, and I was absolutely delighted.

"I found a explicit carved phallus on the face of the stone which measures 40cm wide by 15cm tall, along with engraved words of 'SECVNDINVS CACOR'.

"This type of engraving and graffiti is a very personal insult."

Unsure of what it meant, the stone was given to specialists in Roman epigraphy, Drs Alexander Meyer, Alex Mullen, and Roger Tomlin.

The team then recognised it as a mangled version of Secundinus cacator: “Secundinus, the sh*tter” with the image adding to the force of the written insult.

Dr Andrew Birley, director of excavations and CEO of the Vindolanda Trust, commented: “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 the author has cleverly taken its meaning and subverted it to their own aims.

"Each letter has been carefully carved, which would have taken a while, leaving little doubt to the depth of feeling held.

"This fabulous bit of social commentary from the ancient past will amuse visitors for many years to come."