Archaeological Dig Reveals Scatological Ancient Roman Graffiti in England

The ancients — they're just like us

Hadrian's Wall
A reconstruction of Hadrian's Wall.
Hadrianus1959, CC BY-SA 4.0

Consider, if you would, an unholy amalgamation of two works released by Netflix in the last five years. One is The Dig, a thoughtful drama set around an archaeological excavation in Great Britain. The other is the series American Vandal, a comedy whose first season posed the possibly-unanswerable question “Who drew the dicks?” You might not need to imagine what those two things combined would look like, because we now have an answer — and it’s all too real.

As Hyperallergic reports, a volunteer working to excvate part of Vindolanda found a piece of graffiti that dated back 1,700 years — and reveals that some forms of crude insults never go out of style.

Some backstory: Vindolanda was a fort built during the period when the Roman Empire occupied present-day Britain and built Hadrian’s Wall. Nowadays, the Vinolanda Charitable Trust is working to excavate the buildings and artifacts there. One volunteer working on the project, Dylan Herbert, unearthed something of particular interest there.

In a statement, Herbert described having issues with a stone whern he was working on digging in a particular site. “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,” he said. “Only after we removed the mud did I realise the full extent of what I’d uncovered, and I was absolutely delighted.”

Carved into the scone was a crude drawing of a penis, as well as the phrase “SECVNDINVS CACOR.” Experts believe that this roughly translates to “Secundinus, the shitter.”

It remains unclear who carved this, or what Secundinus did to offend them. It’s one way to have one’s name remembered centuries after you walked the earth, but it’s not quite the most dignified form of immortality.

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