Fertility figure raises interest

Bob Jemmett, a retired HGV driver and avid metal-detectorist was very surprised when he discovered an interesting fertility figure of a nude male, that resembles the Cerne Abbas Giant, during an organised rally in South Cambridgeshire almost six years ago.


The figure, which measures 37mm x 10mm is nicknamed ‘Nobby’ sold for a hammer price of £3,000 – double its pre-sale estimate in a sale of Ancient Coins and Antiquities at Noonans Mayfair recently.

Following the sale, Bob commented: “It was really exciting watching the sale, but I am quite sad to see ‘Nobby’ go! I hope that he brings the new finder as much fun as he’s brough me and my friends over the years!”

Prior to the sale, he had explained: “It was on the 12th of September 2018 that I was metal detecting in a ploughed field at Little Chishill, near Royston in South Cambridgeshire on an organised rally. The weather was appalling with the rain lashing down, but I persevered and received a lovely signal from my Minelab 3030 detector.”

He continued: “Digging down four inches, I uncovered a small bronze nude male figure which featured a prominent erection similar to the Cerne Abbas Giant that is carved into a hill in Dorset. The figure was identified as a Celtic fertility figure and published on the Portable Antiquities website and subsequently used as a logo by the rally organisers in their promotions. As a result, detectorists from all over Europe at Rallies would ask me if they could see ‘Nobby’ who I always keep in my pocket as a constant companion!”

Bob, who is 75, lives in Essex and is a retired HGV driver. He has been detecting for close to 30 years and is married with two daughters and eight grandchildren. After a recent local house burglary, he has decided it is time to let ‘Nobby’ go. He plans to spend his money on home improvements.

As Nigel Mills, Artefact and Coin expert at Noonans, explained: “This unique figure dates from the 1st century BC, he has an oversized bald head with deep sockets for eyes, wedges for arms and short legs. There is a loop behind for suspension.”