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Published October 27, 2023 Updated October 27, 2023

Dorset Dialect Trails

‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards, United Kingdom, 2015.

2015 United Kingdom Parasite Ceramics Literature Add to Collection

In 2015 the Dorchester BID (Business Improvement District) launched a series of trails in the County Town of Dorchester. 43 unique Dorset Dialect ‘plate clocks’ were positioned around the county town to create six different themed trails and were located in a variety of different shops and other locations dotted around the town. These clocks were ‘markers’ that contained a unique ancient Dorset word taken from A Glossary of Dorset Dialect compiled by William Barnes in 1863. Each clock contained an embedded code that when scanned by a smartphone would direct you to www.dorchesterdorset.com which had information about the project, including a glossary and maps. See the box

In conjunction with the actual trails, the designers of the plate clocks, Parasite Ceramics produced a limited edition set of playing cards, entitled Dorset dialect trails. Each card contains a visual reference to Dorchester and a Dorset dialect word used in the trails, as well as images of the plate clocks. There are two jokers, one of which references the Dorchester BID while the other promotes the William Barnes Society. The back of the cards shows a photograph of William Barnes (1801-1886).

‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards produced by Parasite Ceramics, United Kingdom, 2015 ‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards produced by Parasite Ceramics, United Kingdom, 2015 ‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards produced by Parasite Ceramics, United Kingdom, 2015

Above: ‘Dorset Dialect Trails’ playing cards produced by Parasite Ceramics, United Kingdom, 2015.

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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