ARCHAEOLOGISTS are trying to identify a mystery, naked horseman after a carved stone was uncovered at a Roman fort.

The sandstone, which has on it an inscription of naked male figure holding a spear stood in front of a horse or a donkey, was found during the annual excavations at Vindolanda near Hadrian’s Wall.

The stone was found only inches under the topsoil by volunteers Richie Milor and David Goldwater who have been helping with excavations for over 15 years.

Richie said: "We are just absolutely elated, very proud to be part of this discovery. It was actually very emotional.

"Whether you find something or not, we love coming to this site, playing our small part in the research that takes place but finding this made it a very special day indeed.”

Site archaeologist Marta Alberti is now piecing together clues. Marta added: “The nakedness of the man means he is probably a god, rather than a mere cavalryman, he is also carrying a spear in his left arm - a common attribute of the god of War Mars.

"However when you look at his head, the two almost circular features could be identified as wings: a common attribute of Mercury – god of travel. Horses and donkeys are also often associated with Mercury as a protector of travellers.

“This interesting relief may represent something we have not only never seen before but something we may never see again."

The artefact will go on display from July 1. Excavations at Vindolanda will continue until September 24.