A Q&A with Dawn Chipchase, a.k.a Digger Dawn…


Pretty sure Dawn Chipchase doesn’t need an introduction. After just five years of digging she’s a YouTube favorite, a Garrett gal and a very successful detectorist. Dawn thanks for taking the time to share your story!

Dawn Chipchase

Q. If you don’t mind Dawn tell us a little about yourself, i.e., where do you live, are you married, what you do for a living, etc….

A. I live in the Northwest of England, Lancashire in a small town called Rochdale. I’m not married and have been very happily single for a number of years now, I really enjoy the freedom to do what I want, or should I say go detecting when I want and have my finds and metal detectors all over the house.

For the past 15 years I have been a college lecturer. I did work in the sport dept, teaching anatomy and physiology, however, 5 years ago I made a change and I now work in a special needs dept, mainly with kids with autism, learning difficulties or behavioral problems. I love my job, and I have a number of my students now who follow my YouTube channel. I hope to get enough time this year to take a small group of them metal detecting on the college grounds.

I have one son aged 22, but unfortunately he’s not interested in metal detecting and is a very private person. When I’m not working or metal detecting I’m usually out dog walking, video editing, on Facebook or trying to cook healthy recipes

A 1920 silver florin found August 2019

 

Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. Occasionally I take my Border terrier dog ‘Diggy’ out with me. He loves being out and digging in the plugs. The weather is a big factor in whether or not he can go out with me or not. He doesn’t like hot weather and I wouldn’t take him out for long periods of time in the cold. He also isn’t very sheep friendly.

Diggy Dog, my Border Terrier guarding my AT Max

 

Q. When exactly did you start detecting and what was your very first metal detector?

A. I bought my first metal detector in 2009. At the time I knew nothing about metal detectors, or anyone that metal detected and I wasn’t on the internet so my knowledge was zero. I just had always wanted to metal detect after finding a coin in the mud when I was 13.  Then one day I saw a metal detector in Maplins for £46 and I bought it. I had no idea what to do with it, went to Blackpool beach dreaming of finding rings and coins only to find it beeping and out of control on the wet sand. I thought perhaps it was a very technical hobby and beyond my capabilities so I put it in the shed for 5 years and forgot about it.  Five years ago I bought my first real detector, a Garrett EuroAce (350).

The day I got my EuroAce (March 2015)

 

Q. What was it that made you purchase or use that particular brand/model?

A. I bought the Garrett EuroAce after watching ‘The Diggers’ on National geographic channel. I loved KG & Ringy and their enthusiasm. They were using Garrett metal detectors so that was the only brand I knew.  I watched them talk about the settings, felt like I had some idea how to use it and bought one from a shop called Regton Ltd. I am now friends with George & Tim and have dug with them many times here in the UK, something I still find awesome.

 

Q. Being in the UK I’m pretty sure you spend your time searching fields. Do you have any secrets or tips to offer other detectorists who do the same?

A. I always say that metal detecting isn’t always about the finds you go home with in your pocket, its about the fresh air and the thrill of the hunt. Keep your expectations low and your dreams and imagination high. If you think that a good day is linked to finding something valuable or ancient you will have more disappointment than joy. When hunting fields I always seem to have success detecting around the gate area as well as the edges of fields (old walls) and where people might have walked years ago to shield themselves from bad weather.

 

Q. Okay what was your very first signal/find? Do you remember?

A. I certainly do remember. My first signal was a can of cider closely followed by a couple of tent pegs.

 

Q. And what about your first “good” or decent find, as in keeper?

A. I found my first old coin on my 3rd hunt. It was a George 5th penny from 1918 and at the time it might have well been the crown jewels I was so happy with it. I found my first hammered coin, which was an Elizabeth 1st sixpence from 1575 4 months later and was completely ecstatic that I had found something over 400 years old.

Elizabeth 1st hammered sixpence dated 1575

 

Q. Another brain test Dawn….how long did it take you to find your first silver coin and what was it?

A. I found my first silver coin after 7 weeks, It was a George 5th Shilling from 1920. I then found a George 3rd sixpence dated 1817 a couple of weeks later. I remember the feeling and joy of finding that coin and felt that I was finally a metal detectorist. That was the first of the many silver coins I have found since.

My first “old” silver – a George III sixpence, 1817

 

Q. Okay, more of the same…how long did it take you to find your first ring and what type of ring was it?

A. I have only ever found two rings. The first one was 4 years ago (with my EuroAce) and it was a Victorian gold ring dated 1896. The second ring I found last year with my AT Max was a Victorian silver buckle ring dated 1848. I wear that ring now all the time and it seems to have brought me a lot of luck with silver finds. Its one of my very favourite finds.

My first gold ring dated 1879, my silver buckle ring dated 1848 (I wear this every day). Last photo is the same ring before cleaning

 

Q. Dawn did you spend a lot of time researching the places you hunted or was more of a “wherever I can get a permission” type of thing?

A. I have many permissions based around the area where I live though there are specific places I would like to go. Most of my permissions have been opportunistic or through friends. Once I get a new permission I heavily research the area using old side by side maps which overlay back to 1890. I look for paths or nearby old churches and schools. I spend a lot of hours researching.  It keeps me busy during the evenings and by the time it’s the weekend again I’m totally excited to test out the paths I have found on the maps.

 

Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time and if it’s hard to choose just one tell us about a few.

A. Oh this question, whats your favourite find is very difficult as I like my finds for many different reasons. I like the silver buckle ring I spoke about earlier because I can wear it and it feels nice. I have a James 2nd Maundy silver 2 pence from 1688 and like that because it was so unexpected and because he was only King for 3 years. I also love half crowns as they remind me of my Grandad and recently I found a George 3rd half crown in beautiful condition. It was a coin I’ve been after for a long time and finding it nearly brought me to tears with happiness.

James 2nd maundy 2 pence 1688

George the 3rd Half Crown

 

Q. And your “oldest” find to date?

A. My oldest finds are 5 small copper Roman coins. I traveled to Norfolk and managed to find them in one day. The are dated around 340 AD so are 1,700 years old, amazing to think that I am the first person to hold them after they were dropped.

One of my Roman coins, found in Norfolk and dated 340 AD

 

Q. Pretty sure I know the answer but what detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. I currently use the Garrett AT Max with a NEL Tornado coil. I’ve always used Garrett’s and a natural progression from my ACE 400i. I love all the wireless technology it has and it finds me lots of coins and silver.

My Garrett AT Max, or as I call it, Maxie

 

Q. Can you offer a few tips or settings?

A. The AT Max is a sensitive machine – I usually run mine with 2 off the sensitivity, 35 off the discrimination and in custom mode. In quiet areas I tend to use All Metal Mode as it’s the mode that can get the most depth, but in areas with lots of noise I revert back to custom. With the larger NEL coil on I occasionally knock 3 off the sensitivity to make the machine quieter on noisy fields and have found some amazing finds with the lower sensitivity.

 

Q. Do you prefer hunting with others or are you a loner?

A. I am a bit of a loner but enjoying detecting best with my friend Kev. I sometimes go on group digs and rallies but I don’t seem to be able to settle into ‘the zone’ as easily as if I’m on my own land with Kev.

 

Q. Dawn when you do go detecting what accessories do you use?

A. I’ve used the same accessories now for a number of years. I absolutely love my long modified Fiskar’s spade. I find the smaller ones to be a bit back breaking. I have a Garrett Edge digger which I lovingly call my Swordy Spade, a Wireless Garrett carrot, an over the shoulder 911 pushpack bag, and leather gloves. I have the large bag because I also have to carry phones and cameras around with me.

 

Q. How often do get out in the field today?

A. I have been out at least once a week for the past 4.5 years. I go out in any weather and have been seen on videos being battered by hailstones, drowned in torrential rain and in the freezing cold. I’ve found detecting in snow to be particularly useful for checking stride and swing as you can see where you have been or how much you have missed by walking too fast, something Id recommend everyone to do at least once!

 

Q. You surely have a bucket list. Care to share it?

A. Yes I have a dream buck list and a reality bucket list. Dream bucket list is a hoard of Roman or medieval coins, Saxon or Viking gold, or a gold medieval hammered coin. My reality bucket list contains items I have a better chance of finding such as a Bronze age axe head or spear, a Charles 1st half crown, any monarch silver full crown or a silver thimble. 

One of my bucket listers – Charles 1st Half Crown

 

Q. Dawn if you could design it what would your ideal detector look like?

A. I don’t think anything would be radically different. If I could redesign my AT Max it would have a carbon fiber retractable stem like the Deus, some sort of anti-glare screen, a little clock on the control panel and I might add little bits of shiny chrome as detailing as I like shiny things 😊

 

Q. Other than the UK what countries have you detected in and do you have a favorite?

A. I have only detected in England, Wales and last year I was lucky to detect in Holland at Detector World which was similar to the big UK event Detectival. I loved detecting in Holland with the Garrett team, KG, Ringy and Jocelyn. I found a small silver coin from 1849 (strangely KG found one from the same year but with a different monarch on it), and a hammered copper coin from 1680. I really enjoyed it in Holland and I have been invited to go back to another event in April 2020. I don’t think I really have a favorite…I like detecting and finding treasure anywhere.

with Jocelyn, KG & Ringy and Steve Moore, Detector World, Holland 2018

 

Q. Do you belong to a club ?

A. I’m not a specific club member, although I do dig with various groups in the Northwest, mainly Hyndburn and Ribble valley group (HARV) and a new group called Underground Detecting but I have been invited to dig with a number of groups round the country in the past.

A group dig in Shropshire with Metal Detecting Holidays 

 

Q. Finally Dawn if you could pass along one or two words of advice to other detectorists, what would they be?

A. For people starting out in the hobby I would say don’t expect too much. It can be very off putting for beginners to look on social media at all the gold and beautiful rings and relics being found, and feel as though they must be doing something wrong as they only have ring pulls and bags of rubbish. For all detectorists I would say look at the hobby as a whole, enjoy the fresh air, the thrill of the hunt and the finds are a bonus.
Take the time to get to know your detector of choice. When a detector is so well understood that it becomes and extension of your arm you’re going to do well with it. There are many new machines coming out and chopping and changing isn’t always the answer to finding something fantastic….knowing your machine well is.

 Click photo for Dawn’s YouTube site

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23 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

23 responses to “A Q&A with Dawn Chipchase, a.k.a Digger Dawn…

  1. Bob Sickler

    A good detector, learning to use it well, and a great place to use it… These are the bare essentials of successful metal detecting. I particularly like Dawn’s beginning and closing quotes…

    “Keep your expectations low and your dreams and imagination high. If you think that a good day is linked to finding something valuable or ancient you will have more disappointment than joy.”

    “Take the time to get to know your detector of choice. When a detector is so well understood that it becomes and extension of your arm you’re going to do well with it. There are many new machines coming out and chopping and changing isn’t always the answer to finding something fantastic… knowing your machine well is.”

    This is the right mentality that makes a person successful. Nicely done Dawn!

  2. Greg Blackwell, Michigan USA

    Dawn is a treasure herself! Her positivity, down-to-earth personality and sense of humor make every video she does entertaining and informative! And when she has Diggy along with her those are special videos LOL!

  3. Natasha Smith

    Dawn was definitely a role model for me when I decided to take up metal detecting, her genuine enthusiasm and also willing to show all sides of the hobby the good and the not so good, she is a brilliant ambassador for this wonderful hobby

    • Dawn

      Thanks Natasha, its comments like yours, and knowing I can help and inspire others into the best hobby in the world that keeps me making videos on youtube. Thanks again for your lovely comment.

  4. Rich Swoger

    What a great ambassador for our hobby you are Dawn!

  5. Kev iDig

    My Hero on and off camera, Very calm, straight forward, loving and funny personality…Not to mention a brilliant Detectoress!! Great interview !!

  6. Tony

    Wow, terrific interview, thanks to you both!
    Now we all need to find such positive partners like you Dawn! Best of luck to you and Kev!

  7. Colin Wilson

    Dawn you are a ambassador for what the hobby should be. Keep digging those silvers up that are just waiting to see your smile 😄xx

  8. Dick, another great interview. Metal detecting is one of the few sports/pastimes where gender makes no difference to performance. Dawn certainly has lots of enthusiasm for what she does. Well done Dawn.

    • Dawn

      Thanks John for your comment, there has been a big influx of women metal detecting recently, its great to see women out there and husbands and wives doing something together. How could you not be positive in this fantastic hobby 🙂

  9. Success in posting – I think.

    Hi Dawn, I am not too far away from your neck of the woods here in East Lancs (under the shadow of Pendle Hill) and have seen some of your MD video on YT which I have enjoyed, especially for your infectious enthusiasm! Thank you both. This interview was both enjoyable and informative as, even though a Septuagenarian having been in this hobby for not many years since retiring, I do consider myself something of a novice. I have been on rallies with the Ribble, the Bolton and the Lune valley clubs this year but I do confess to like being out on my own – though there are risks to that isolation at my age.

    I just got 2 permissions over on the Fylde near our caravan at Warton and found my oldest article discovery last week – a 1797 George III Cartwheel penny which I was thrilled with! Just 10 minutes on my 2nd permission’s land had me realise I had a big problem I only just became aware of at one of those rallies or club nights – GREEN WASTE! It seems to be everywhere about and is utter vandalism imho, wrecking our rich history forever, all aided and abetted by HMG to help dispose of this garbage. This is not to mention all the housing development around there on green land. I hope you can stay clear of such spoilt locations.

    Regarding lady detectorists, my wife has Parkinsons and, as her carer (this making my hobby a little difficult time-wise) and having previously shown her your videos, I joked earlier today about her coming out detecting with me. She would struggle a bit and said she would be far too slow. I replied that would be good (in slowing me down, me being impatient, wanting to cover as much ground asap) and I would dig whilst she detects. Whilst at Garstang Show Ground with Lune Valley recently, I saw one chap doing exactly that for two ladies and I heard some critical comments for one or two others around! I have a new Teknetics T2+ machine arriving from Unearthed UK on Monday so she could use my old Eurotec which is very light. Maybe one day.

    I hope to cross path with you out in the fields sometime soon – Happy Hunting!

    • Dawn

      Hi PP. So great to hear you have started to get out detecting! I think it’s a great idea for your wife to get out detecting with you, the fresh air will do her good and doing it together is even better. I sometimes go out with HARV group round the Pendle area. I hope we end up on the same dig one day and get to have a chat. All the best take care DD

      • pendlepatriot

        Thanks Dawn for taking the time and trouble in replying. I also have joked with my wife to say you have the best manicured finger nails of any detectorist I have seen and, unlike me, no gloves in sight? Lol. Best regards.

  10. Loved this interview! Dawn sure looks to have a great sense of humor and is probably a lot of fun to hunt with. Her dog “Digger” and “Maxie” the detector have probably seen all kinds of adventures together! Great post!

  11. DICK: another enjoyable read. Great Q&A to learn more about folks who enjoy this terrific pastime.

    DAWN: For relative newcomers to this wonderful hobby, I really appreciate the words-of-warning you share with those who are interested, but over-anticipate achieving ‘greatness’ afield. We can get lucky, but for sure, we need to just relax, put in the time, and take what comes our way while constantly learning and improving our skills. If you ever take a trip to the USA, stick a pin in the map to come “Out West” and I’d be more than glad to get you into some interesting old ghost towns that can bring fun with the potential to surprise you with a good find or two. I live in Vale on the far east-side of Oregon.

    Just bring your good attitude and enthusiastic ‘sparkiness’ … and a good smaller-size search coil.☺ I trust you’ll stay as energized as I have been when it comes to enjoying this great sport. You’ve got some catching up to do, however, because I started 2837 weeks ago as of the 3rd.

  12. Dawn

    Hi Monte 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, and extra thanks for the invite! It sure would be exciting to come over to the states one day, and something I plan on doing. It would be fantastic to hunt with someone as experienced as yourself, you must be a plethora of information and tips 🙂
    My enthusiasm and excitement grows more and more in this hobby, the more I learn. the more I want to know.
    All the best Dawn

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