“I’m going digging” – The story of Del Dorman

29th April 2018 — 31 Comments

Detectorist Del Dorman has a rare form of lymphoma and daughter Anna had a plan to cheer him up. Wouldn’t it be great if one of his many visits to hospital, he happened to pick up a Searcher magazine and realise that he was featured in one of the articles. A scheme was devised.


Del Dorman

Under the pretence of collecting information for her son’s homework, she sent in a voice recorder and asked Dal to say something about himself and detecting finds. What follows is a distillation of that tape, the information supplied by Anna, and my interpretation.


I’ve written on several occasions how the hobby has helped people with varying disabilities – ranging from cancer, dementia and ADHD – to cope with and enjoy a better quality of life. I’m beginning to think it wouldn’t be a bad idea if detecting was one of the remedies recommended by the NHS … sponsored by Garrett or one of the other leading manufacturers, of course.

Which brings me nicely to my next subject. Sixty-five year old Shropshire lad Del Dorman has been an avid detectorist for about seven years, ever since he borrowed a friend’s machine. All it took to make him a ‘detecting junkie’ was the finding of a lone musket ball, a coin and a scrap piece of iron. He was hooked! One of his favourite phrases became, “I’m going digging!”

Since then, Del’s detecting has grown into his passion and he will tell anyone about ‘the greatest hobby in the world’. His home in the historic mark town of Bridgnorth, which he shares with his wife Bridget, is testament to this. He has a dedicated room with his collections, books, magazines, maps, research and equipment – any spare space is filled up with his finds – even the kitchen tiles are lined with old tokens lined atop of them.

Anna says, “My Dad gets real enjoyment out of detecting and, like the Ancient Mariner, will stop anyone who cares to listen to his tales. He will nervously laugh as he tells the story how he heard a strange noise and upon turning around saw two fully-grown stags coming toward him. Thankfully the sight of him with all his gear on meant they darted off into the nearby woods. He is often followed by sheep, gets his car stuck and has to wait for a tractor to pull him out.

Selection of Musket Balls

The beautiful engraved gold wedding ring, which he thinks was associated with a Tolkien novel, is a favourite tale. He even wrote and sent an entire script to Mackenzie Crook for his series ‘Detectorists’. Unfortunately, it was never used … perhaps in the next series?”

Living where he does in Shropshire means good searching opportunities for the metal detecting enthusiast are always available. Whilst many fellow detectorists have difficulty finding places to go, Del, always jokes that he has too many fields to search.

He does have an advantage. Because of his work as the Managing Director of a corrugated steel and gates firm, most of the local farmers and landowners know him and give permission. They are always the first to know if anything of interest is found and are pleased to receive their share when finds are valued.

Daughter Anna with Del in Background


Despite Del being diagnosed with a rare form of Lymphoma in September 2016 and undergoing six months of chemotherapy, he still went detecting almost daily.

In May 2017 he underwent intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy before a stem cell transplant, donated by his brother John – also a detectorist. This grueling therapy means that Del has an entirely new immune system and thus is very prone to infections as even the mildest illness can become very serious, very quickly.

When returning home, Del must live in an almost sterile environment whilst his immune system develops. This means that for the coming months, metal detecting is out of the question. Although the fresh air will be beneficial, being around dirt can be very dangerous.


Del has had many successful digs and often comes back with ‘the find to change history’. His daughter Anna often examines with the magnifying glass and cleans with a toothbrush; she also spends time researching unusual finds.

Assorted Coins

Anna’s son Jacob also loves to go out digging with his Granddad, and ‘Bridget’ will go out too – the spare detector never languishes in the corner for long. Del says that it is fortunate that little development has occurred in the area so that there are hundreds of fields which have been untouched and each harvest time when they are turned over, new secrets are revealed.

Amongst all the farm machinery parts and pieces of metal, Del has found hundreds, if not thousands, of coins, tokens, beautiful little artefacts, pocket watches, Roman brooches, pieces of swords and axes. Peter Reavill, the Finds Liaison Officer in Ludlow, is always keen to hear what he has to say.


A favourite find is an Iron Age Linchpin found in a field just outside Bridgnorth in 2015. Peter said it was the oldest and only complete one found in Shropshire. Due to the intricate detail on the Linchpin, it is believed that the chariot was owned by someone of status and Del says that it is ‘mindboggling’ to think how it got there; it could have been a votive offering to the Gods or just have snapped off the chariot wheel. He looks forward to finding more out when it is returned.

There are also Roman brooches and a Roman coin found in one small field and it is believed that this particular location, because of these and other finds, there could be an undiscovered Roman camp. Del is adamant that once he is better he will continue in the search for more evidence.


Although Del will no doubt miss digging whilst recuperating, he will be able to spend time reading and researching. I’m sure he will endeavour to get back out there as soon as possible to find that elusive hoard … even though covered with suitable protective gear! Maybe in the follow-up I will be writing about the ‘Determined Detectorist in the Protective Bubble!’

More Coins

April 2018 – From Anna

My Dad doesn’t get to go detecting now but is still an avid reader of The Searcher. Your blog will be good to read!

1st May 2018. Latest update from Anna on her Father’s health:

Wow! Just read the article and all the comments. How wonderful! Have sent link to my dad. He’ll be thrilled.

He plans on going detecting again – he has caught every illness from pneumonia to kidney failure since Christmas but is finally on the mend. His new immune system has definitely been put to the test but it will be worth it in the long run. He has planned all the fields he’s going to go detecting in the summer – I said you better go wrapped up in a bubble from head to toe!

Please thank all the commenters all the kind messages and prayers are very much appreciated..

And thanks again for such a wonderful article. 

All the very best to you. Anna 

This article has been adapted from one that originally appeared in The Searcher magazine


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31 responses to “I’m going digging” – The story of Del Dorman

  1. Good Post John and prayers to Dell

  2. Thank you, Tom.
    We wish him well.

  3. Excellent post by John.
    I wish you well Del.
    Our hobby needs more people like yourself.
    Jerry Morris.

  4. Oh for a magic wand, Jerry.

  5. billfromlachine 29th April 2018 at 7:55 PM

    Well written article and thanks for sharing. Send Del my best wishes from Canada on a full and speedy recovery so he can get out and go digging.

    Regards + HH

  6. All the best for the future Del, I’m sure you’ll be out there soon unearthing those treasures. Will be thinking of you.
    Thanks for the write up John. Without people like you we wouldn’t know half of what is going on in the hobby.
    Regards Steve.

  7. An inspiring story John..Any form of cancer is difficult at best.. that one is very unpleasant.

    I truly hope that all goes well for Del has a full and speedy recovery.. Like Bill above, please send him my best wishes too


  8. brian (OSD on NRH) 29th April 2018 at 8:40 PM

    sorry to hear you have heath issues del, but in your detecting finds are out standing, you are a great ambassador to the hobby, hope one day you will be able to get out detecting again best wishes del, cheers bri, feel free to drop into the northern relic hunters forum old mate

  9. Reading Dell’s story makes me want to hunt in the UK again it is addictive digging hammered coins and bits & pieces. Your a very lucky man to have so much land to hunt. Take care mate.

  10. Dell, best wishes from Australia. I hope you recover well enough to get out in the dirt again.
    Thanks for compiling the story John. I can forward our club newsletters to Anna for Dell if he is interested and able to read them via Email.
    I will send a pm.

  11. Del, I wish you all the very best for a very speedy recovery and a very swift return to the hobby that you are so passionate about.

    In the meantime, I hope that reading The Searcher Magazine and doing your research will give you some comfort and help you pass the time until you can get back out into the fields.

    Very best regards

    Thanks for the excellent blog John.

  12. Thank you, Micheal, Brian, Daniel, Ray, Les and Barry for your contributions and best wishes for Del.

  13. Hope that Del can be back ‘at it’ soon.

  14. Del has a great collection of finds and also very fortunate to have a daughter like Anna. Wishing Del all the best for a speedy recovery.

  15. Bruce D Campbell 30th April 2018 at 2:32 AM

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery Del coming to you from the other side of the pond.

    John, I noticed that the setback was a year ago. Is there any updates on his progress?

  16. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 30th April 2018 at 4:09 AM

    What a fantastic thing Anna has done for her Dad by contacting you John, thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    It great to see that a hobby shared by so many strangers, can at times make us all feel like close friends.

    Wishing you all the very best Del for a full and speedy recovery.

  17. Thank you Anna, John, and of course Del, who is an inspiration to us all.
    I sincerely hope that you get there Del.

  18. I wish Del all the best and his daughter … When I think the world is getting me down I think of people like Del and think your not doing to bad …good luck and happy hunting …Gary

  19. Richard Edwards ( aka Boo ) Secretary Kommdc. 30th April 2018 at 11:12 AM

    Hello Del,

    Best wishes and a speedy recovery, a true icon to this great hobby of Metal Detecting. Also a big thank you to Anna for putting this interesting blog together, a great read..

  20. I have just read this, for the second time today, and, it is now added to FAVOURITES.
    Not for the first time have I been touched by the sheer courage of folk in this wonderfully
    curative hobby which we call metal detecting, instead of TREASURE hunting.
    There is in fact a wide divide between the two, and it is this Del.
    The bits and bobs we pick up when swinging a detector are nice to find, treasure however
    is something to be loved for ever, something precious, something beyond a valuation by a committee, something priceless.
    Del, YOU are treasure, and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  21. Michael Rice (‘fenian’ on the CMD site) 30th April 2018 at 6:09 PM

    Loved reading about Del and all his finds. I still remember the first musket ball I found in the UK (near Basingstoke) in the early ’70s, and was amazed at the image of that huge pile of them.

    Del, I wish you the very best in your recovery process and look forward to seeing and hearing about what you’ve found when you’re back out in the fields.

    Cheers from the Colonies…………….Michael

  22. All the best, from Canada, on your recovery Del. Hope you’re able to get out in the near future and resume your hunt for the Roman camp. Thanks to Anna, for keeping your dads spirits up.
    Thank-you John for posting this inspiring rendition of Dels detecting adventures.

    John K.(bugface on the CMDF)

  23. 1st May. This message from Anna has been added to the blog:

    Wow! Just read the article and all the comments. How wonderful!
    Have sent link to my dad. He’ll be thrilled.

    He plans on going detecting again – he has caught every illness from pneumonia to kidney failure since Christmas but is finally on the mend. His new immune system has definitely been put to the test but it will be worth it in the long run. He has planned all the fields he’s going to go detecting in the summer – I said you’d better go wrapped up in a bubble from head to toe!

    Please thank all the commenters. The kind messages and prayers are very much appreciated..
    And thanks again for such a wonderful article. 

     All the very best to you. Anna 

    • billfromlachine 1st May 2018 at 11:52 AM

      I’m glad the members from the Canadian Detecting Forum could help out in some small way. Tell Del we’re all pulling for his complete recovery and looking forward to his upcoming finds.

      To help get his immune system back up to full speed lots of foods high in anti oxidants should help his cause.

      Regards + HH

  24. An extraordinary ordinary bloke… The jackpot surely awaits him, and deservedly so! Wonderful story! Cheers, Del, Anna, and John!

  25. Fantastic account Anna. Regards to Del from me.

  26. What a small world it can sometimes be. On a Wednesday evening I cross to the other side of the Severn to have a glass of wine at a hostelry in Broseley called The Duke of York. Recently Wednesday nights has seen the pub become a regular drinking spot for some of the farming community. I tried my charm offensive, gave out some of my cards, put up with their Micky taking but gained no fresh land. It so happens that one of the farms that Del goes on is one belonging to Richard Gough, which just happens to be one of the farmers that goes to the Duke. To-night he passed me a note to say that Del was on John Winter’s Blog and so I’ve just read the blog and wish Del many future happy days out in the fields and pastures of Shropshire!

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