The delightful village of Castle Acre boasts an extraordinary wealth of history.
Situated on the Peddars Way, a major trade and pilgrim route to Thetford, Bromholm Priory and Walsingham, it is a very rare and complete survival of a Norman planned settlement, including a castle, town, parish church and associated monastery. All this is the work of a great Norman baronial family, the Warennes, mainly during the 11th and 12th centuries.
First came the castle, founded soon after the Conquest by the first William de Warenne, initially as a stone ‘country house’. During the first half of the 12th century, however, more disturbed conditions prompted its progressive conversion into a strong keep, further defended by stone walls and an immense system of ditched earthworks. Still impressively visible, these are perhaps the finest village earthworks in England.
Meanwhile, the ‘planned town’, deliberately established outside the castle, was also protected by ditched earthwork defenses with stone gates. The north or survives, with the main road into the village still running between its towers.
Visitors to Castle Acre can likewise trace the ancient street layout of this now peaceful village, lined with attractive flint or brick houses, before exploring both the great castle earthworks and the extensive priory remains.
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