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Julliberrie's Grave

Long Barrow

<b>Julliberrie's Grave</b>Posted by GLADMANImage © Robert Gladstone
Also known as:
  • Julaber's Grave

Nearest Town:Canterbury (8km NE)
OS Ref (GB):   TR077532 / Sheets: 179, 189
Latitude:51° 14' 22.38" N
Longitude:   0° 58' 33.22" E

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<b>Julliberrie's Grave</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Julliberrie's Grave</b>Posted by Joolio Geordio


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Here we have a fine Kentish long barrow - or is it 'long barrow of Kent?' - set high above the Great Stour and small village of Chilham, the latter also possessing a rather interesting polygonal Norman keep, located beside a great house of some repute. Apparently.

Near the junction of the A28/A252 a 'dead-end' road leads across a railway line to a wooded car park. Contrary to the fine forecast, a hint of August drizzle hangs in the air... the path leading across the aforementioned river, past a striking white timbered building, to an attractive weir, the fast flowing water enhanced by a veritable submerged forest of weed and such-like. The path swings to the left, after negotiating a second bridge near a house of attractive red brick, to ascend to the downs above... (ha! How excellent is the English language?) where the long barrow lies, unseen by the casual observer. Not to mention the interested one, too.

The monument is cloaked in summer vegetation and foliage, natural camouflage of the highest order which takes me for a 'monumental' sucker. Yeah, I walk straight past, to finally cotton on courtesy of a retrospective glance by the edge of a freshly harvested field.,,, so there you are, you beauty. This long barrow is no ploughed-out vestige of its former self either, measuring a substantial 2m high by 44m long beneath the greenery. I reckon it would have been clearly visible from the river down below in days gone by; however it now backs up against an area of woodland which has possibly served to protect the remaining fabric. Out of sight is out of mind, so to speak.

Upon finally locating a bramble-free spot to sit and contemplate the surroundings, the paradoxical nature of the site is all too evident. Common place sounds of urban life - traffic noise, the very-close-to-annoying peel of church bells etc - may be clearly audible, yet all I can see are rolling agricultural fields sweeping into the distance. The two do not converge in any meaningful way, leading to a somewhat surreal experience, if the truth be told. Occasionally it is apparent that - sometimes, anyway - places don't change that much, do they? Julliberrie's Grave keeps on keeping on. Regardless.
14th January 2011ce
Edited 15th January 2011ce

JULIEBERRIES GRAVE - Visited 28/12/99

This was a bit tricky to find at first. We followed Copey's directions, but alas, were foolishly without an OS Map. The trick is to head round to the right after going up the path behind the houses and through the opening out into a field where the barrow "appears" to the right.
The dog in the house immediately below the barrow was none too friendly!
Still we managed to get a shot like the book only with winter colouring instead..which was nice!
Rob Gillespie Posted by Rob Gillespie
15th January 2001ce


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Julliberrie's Grave - origins of the name

According to 'The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 7' by Edward Hasted, published in 1798 Chilham

"LIES upon the river Stour, about six miles southward from Canterbury. It is called in Domesday, Cilleham; in Saxon, Cyleham; which signifies the cold place; and some think this place was antiently called Julham, or Juliham, i. e. the village or dwelling of Julius, in regard to Julius Cæsar, the Roman emperor, who had several conflicts with the Britons in and near it."

What this suggests is that the name Julli in Julliberrie's grave and the first syllable of Chilham are related - both coming from one source, whether than be the Saxon 'Cille' ('chill/cold') or an earlier (and doubtful) 'Julius'. The similarity between the 'j' and 'ch' sounds are obvious, and can easily be mistaken/swapped.

This further suggests that we are looking at two linked placenames - Chil-ham and Chil-berry, the latter a possible derivation from either Burgh (again, doubtful) or bearw, as in 'barrow' in Anglo-Saxon. In other words Julliberrie's grave is simply the barrow near, or of, Chil-ham.

If this etymology is correct we are looking at an original meaning of the 'cold barrow', or 'the barrow near the cold place' - rather apt for the misty, frosty stour valley in winter. Another idea may be that it comes from ceorl-ham, the settlement of the churl (a landholder) or it is a debased Saxon personal name, such as the Guthlac that survives as 'Gilli' in Gillingham.

The other possibility is that it does derive from an earlier Roman or Celtic word - but seeing as neither possessed the 'j' sound (Julius Caesar being originally Iulius Caesar) this is extremely doubtful.

John Grigsby
Posted by John Grigsby
7th April 2010ce

The position of this hill is described in Murray's 'Handbook for Kent' as being immediately above the station (Chilham) on the right. The compilers of this work and of Black's ' Guide' offer the suggestion that this is a corruption of "Julian's Bower," a common name given to an area devoted to Roman popular games.

The generally accepted tradition, however, is that it marks the grave of one of Julius Caesar's generals, Laberius Durus; and the story is well told by Philipott in his 'Villare Cantianum,' 1659, p. 117 :—

" There is a place in this Parish [Chilham] on the South-side of the River stretched out on a long green Hill, which the Common People (who bear the greatest sway in the corrupting of Names) call Jelliberies Grave. The Historie itself will evidence the original of this denomination.

It was about this place that Julius Caesar respited his farther remove or advance into the bowels of this Island, upon intelligence received that his Fleet riding in the road at Lymen not far distant, had been much afflicted and shattered by a Tempest; whereupon he returned, and left his Army for ten dayes, encamped upon the brow of this Hill, till he had new careen'd and rigged his Navy; but in his march from hence was so vigoriously [sic] encountered by the Britons that he lost with many others Leberius Durus, Tribune and Marshal of the Field, whose Obsequies being performed with solemnities answerable to the eminence of his Place, and Command, each Souldier as was then Customary, bringing a certain quantity of earth to improve his plane of Sepulture into more note than ordinarie, caused it so much to exceed the proportion of others elsewhere ; and from hence it assumed the name of Julaber, whom other vulgar heads, ignorant of the truth of the story, have fancied to have been a Giant, and others of them have dreamed to have been some Enchanter or Witch."
From 'Notes and Queries' May 19th, 1900.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th August 2006ce
Edited 25th August 2006ce

"JULLABER" —Jullaber is near Chilham, about six miles south-west of Canterbury. There are two references to the place in Camden. Camden himself thus explains the name:—

"Below this town [Julham] is a green barrow, said to be the burying-place of one Jul Laber many years since; who some will tell you was a Giant, others a Witch. For my own part, imagining all along that there might be something of real Antiquity coach'd under that name, I am almost persuaded that Laberius Durus the Tribune, slain by the Britains in their march from the camp we spoke of, was buried here; and that from him the Barrow was called Jul-laber."

C. C. B.
From Notes and Queries, May 19, 1900.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th August 2006ce
Edited 25th August 2006ce

The Down on which the barrow sits is called Julliberrie Down. Would it be beyond all likelihood that it's got something to do with berries? Perhaps that's far too simple.

It is said that it was here the Ancient Britons stood against the Tenth Legion and kicked their behinds so they had to return to the continent (as you can read at Peter Blanche's 'Kent Resources' page at

Another explanation is that the mound is the grave of a giant called Julaber (so says Grinsell in his 1936 'Ancient Burial Mounds of England').
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
19th August 2004ce
Edited 25th August 2006ce


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Julliberrie's Grave was thoughtfully sited on the false crest of the Down, overlooking the River Stour below. According to the smr on MAGIC, this longbarrow was once even longer: 60m maybe, instead of 45 as it is now. Perhaps that explains the lack of a burial chamber - it was in the NNW end that was quarried away.

Dyer (in 'Southern Britain') describes how the barrow was reused over the centuries: there were Romano-British burials found in the south ditch, which were covered with cairns of flints. So maybe there is a roman general inside - who knows.

A damaged late Neolithic axehead was found in the turf core of the longbarrow when it was excavated in the 1930s.

Lots on the history of the excavations at the Wikipedia's_Grave
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
19th August 2004ce
Edited 25th August 2006ce