Acle is today a large village c. 20km east of Norwich lying at 0-10m OD on sand overlying recent deposits. Although it is now c. 10km from the east Norfolk coast, in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods it would have been on the edge of a wide navigable estuary which extended far inland and is now mostly occupied by the Norfolk Broads. The extent of the former marshland which developed as the land silted up and was drained is indicated by the network of drains and channels which surround the present village on the north, east and south. A settlement of Roman date underlies playing fields on the eastern margins of the present village and it has been suggested that there was a trading port here in the Roman period. The church of St Edmund contains fabric of late Anglo-Saxon or Norman date, and lies towards the south of the present village (adjacent to test pit ACL/09/08). In the centre of the village a small green may be the remains of an earlier larger open area, which would place the church on its west side. It is likely that this area is the centre of the medieval settlement, but no significant excavation has been carried out on the village against which to test this hypothesis. The village is separated from Damgate, a smaller area of settlement to the south, by low-lying marshy land, and today by the main A47 road to Great Yarmouth. Acle has seen much recent development, particularly on its north-western side, where most settlement is of twentieth century date.
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