THE numbers were down but spirits were high as enthusiasts came together in Weymouth to mark a long-ago battle they believe should be given more prominence.

Subterfuge, siege and executions were acted out over the Crabchurch Conspiracy commemorative weekend.

Poor weather affected the numbers of people due to take part, but those that did were as passionate as ever.

Saor Patrol, a Celtic rock band, were scheduled to perform but had to cancel after being trapped by snow in Scotland.

The Crabchurch Conspiracy of 1645 was a Royalist plot during the English Civil War to bring Weymouth and Melcombe under control of the king’s forces by using it as a landing port for a French army.

Heavily outnumbered Parliamentarian soldiers led by Colonel William Sydenham won – at the Battle of Weymouth – but it was a bloody battle with around 500 killed.

Local historians say the battle, the largest to be fought in Dorset, was significant yet it has been forgotten.

The annual re-enactment festival helps to keep it alive and remind people of Weymouth’s history.

Money raised from the weekend supports the Old Town Hall.

The Crabchurch Conspiracy has inspired books – and an album of music from local folk rockers The Dolmen who performed over the weekend in a storming gig at the Pavilion.

The performance was narrated by author Kit Berry and historian Professor Ronald Hutton.

Mark Vine, one of the organisers, said: “Re-enactment numbers were down drastically by 60-70 per cent but those that did turn up did a great job.

“We cancelled the battle on the beach but instead did a re-enactment where the conspirators were arrested in local hostelries and put on trial which led to three of them being executed outside the Town Hall.

“We went up and down the high street and there was a big crowd watching.

“The Mayor, Ray Banham, was stunned and got really into it.”

As well as the re-enactment, a wreath was laid at the old town pump in memory of 250 Irish royalist mercenaries who perished at the Battle of Weymouth in around the same spot as the old pump – it was then a deep inlet known as ‘The Hole.’