'Ancient Mysteries'

The Trebus Project aims to capture the memories and insights of people with dementia before their words are lost to history. 

New 'stories' are added regularly to our Facebook site; 'The Trebus Project Ltd'.




Glued and taped life story scroll.

The storytellers include such characters as a member of the Hitler Youth, a cowboy, a professional boxer, and a secretary at the Nuremberg War Trials. The archive also contains dozens of stories from the vast, largely unrecorded background of housewives and odd-job men that fill every care home. Their stories mix historically important, eye-witness accounts of events such as the London Blitz and the Suez crisis, with personal tales about financial hardship, bed-bugs, stolen biscuits, abusive priests, and getting drunk with Princess Margaret. 

We keep each of the stories in the words of the narrator. The language can be baffling, maze-like or repetitive, but - more often than not - it is blisteringly direct. Where things were difficult to understand, unresolved or troubling in the interviews they remain difficult, unresolved or troubling in the stories. Despite surreal digressions and frequent dead-ends, we were careful to follow conversations rather than lead them, even though this sometimes meant that it took many hours to get past the repetition and add a few words. Some of the stories took well over a hundred visits to piece together. A handful of pieces contain the last words the person ever spoke.

Some stories place a high demand on the reader’s creative imagination and willingness to take an active interpretative stance to fill in the gaps and disentangle the real from the symbolic. 'Ancient Mysteries' - a title chosen for her story by one of the participants - describes the feel of the project perfectly.

Some stories contain elements that might seem unpalatable or challenge our expectations. We have become too familiar with a simple language of decline that blocks any real understanding of the condition. Each of the stories reveals someone who is trying to hold onto a sense that their life has had, and continues to have, meaning – to themselves and to others – even though the meaning itself may have changed, and be changing, over time.


The Trebus Project has now stopped actively working with people with dementia. The project is now working with artists, poets, actors, photographers, linguists and researchers, to adapt, interpret, and present our archive of stories on the radio and TV, in galleries and in theatres.  


The Trebus Project is named in homage to Edmund Trebus, heroic accumulator of the seemingly insignificant. 

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Fascinating... as is everything else about the Trebus Project. - Oliver Sacks


In order to continue developing the Trebus Project we are actively fundraising and welcome donations. The Trebus Project was conceived and directed by David Clegg.


Contact: information@trebusprojects.org