In Saxon times, Acle was on the Norfolk shoreline and grew as a fishing village. Great Yarmouth did not exist, the area it now occupies being a sand bank, and all the marshes between Great Yarmouth and Acle were under sea. Gradually land was reclaimed from the estuaries of the Rivers Bure, Waveney and Yare leaving large expanses of flat land stretching towards the sea.
There are two theories about the origin of the name Acle; one is that it means ‘a place that overflowed’ or that it means ‘in the lea of the oaks’, that is, a clearing in an oak forest (to the south of the village at that time was a large oak woodland ). In Tudor times, hundreds of oaks were felled here for timber to construct Elizabeth I’s war ships.
The village stands beside a vast marshland area which in Roman times was a great estuary called Gariensis. Trading ports were located on high ground and Acle was one of those important ports. Evidence of the Romans was found in the late 1980s when quantities of coins were unearthed in The Street during construction of the A47 bypass. Some properties in the village, built on the line of the beach, have front gardens of sand while the back gardens are on a thick bed of flints. Records show that Acle was a fishing port as far back as Saxon times; the Church tower could possibly have served as a lookout point.