Gelt Forest (G-B):Roman soldiers' very rude graffiti revealed near Hadrian's Wall

James Rogers / Fox News

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An ancient quarry near Hadrian’s Wall in northern England offers a smutty glimpse into the lives of the Roman soldiers who built the famous fortification.

Archaeologists from the U.K.’s Newcastle University and Historic England are working to record the unique inscriptions carved into the walls of the quarry, which provided stone for Hadrian’s Wall.

The sandstone inscriptions include a caricature of an officer and a phallus, which denoted good luck in Roman culture.

Other carvings at the quarry in Gelt Forest have helped experts date the rare inscriptions. One inscription, for example, describes ‘APRO ET MAXIMO CONSVLIBVS OFICINA MERCATI,’ a reference to the consulate of Aper and Maximus. This dates the inscription to 207 A.D., a time when Hadrian’s Wall was undergoing a major renovation, according to Historic England.

RomanquarryThe caricature of a Roman officer cut into the ancient quarry near Hadrian's Wall. (Historic England/Newcastle University)

These inscriptions at Gelt Forest are probably the most important on the Hadrian’s Wall frontier,” said Mike Collins, Historic England’s inspector of ancient monuments for Hadrian’s Wall, in a statement. “They provide insight into the organization of the vast construction project that Hadrian’s Wall was, as well as some very human and personal touches, such as the caricature of their commanding officer inscribed by one group of soldiers.”

Hadrian wall 2This Phallus is a Roman symbol meaning 'good luck'

Known as the written rock of Gelt, local people and experts were able to view the inscriptions up close until the 1980s, when a path to the quarry collapsed into the gorge of a nearby river. The soft sandstone into which the inscriptions were cut is also slowly eroding.

A new project, however, aims to record the carvings. Archaeologists will use ropes from above the quarry to access the inscriptions, which will be laser scanned. The scans will then be used to create a 3D digital model of the rock surfaces, giving the public an up-close view of the inscriptions for the first time in 40 years.

Romanquarry2Roman graffiti carved into the soft sandstone of the quarry in Gelt Forest. (Historic England)

These inscriptions are very vulnerable to further gradual decay,” said Ian Haynes, professor of archaeology at Newcastle University, in a statement. “This is a great opportunity to record them as they are in 2019, using the best modern technology to safeguard the ability to study them into the future.”

Construction of the wall began in 122 A.D. on the orders of Emperor Hadrian, who was visiting Britain at that time.