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‘Nobby’ the Celtic fertility figure found in field sells at auction for £3,000

20 Jun 2024 2 minute read
Photo issued by Noonans of a bronze Celtic fertility figure discovered by metal detectorist Bob Jemmett in a ploughed field in Little Chishill, Cambridgeshire in September 2018.

A Celtic fertility figure nicknamed Nobby, which resembles the Cerne Abbas Giant, has sold at auction for £3,000.

Metal detectorist Bob Jemmett found the bronze figure, which measures 37mm by 10mm, in a ploughed field in Little Chishill, Cambridgeshire.

The 75-year-old, of Manningtree, Essex, was at an organised rally when he made the discovery in September 2018.

He kept the figure, which he nicknamed Nobby, for years but decided to sell it after a recent burglary.

The item had a pre-auction estimate of up to £1,500, but sold for a hammer price of £3,000 at Noonans Mayfair on Thursday.


Retired lorry driver Mr Jemmett said afterwards: “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 brought me and my friends over the years.”

Recalling the day he found the figure, which is estimated to date from the first century BC, Mr Jemmett said: “The weather was appalling with the rain lashing down, but I persevered and received a lovely signal from my Minelab 3030 detector.

“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.”


Nigel Mills, artefact and coin expert at Noonans, said: “This unique figure dates from the first 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.”

Mr Jemmett has been metal detecting for almost 30 years and is married with two daughters and eight grandchildren.

He said he planned to use the money from the sale of the figure on home improvements.

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