HUNDREDS of people descended on a small village at the weekend to learn more about one of the first battles of the English Civil War which took place there exactly 376 years ago.

Cannon fire echoed across the skies and muskets were fired to commemorate the Battle of Piercebridge at a day-long event which featured re-enactments, tours of the battlefield and historical talks.

One of the organisers, Mark Hornsby, said: "It was an absolutely amazing day.

"We got so many more people than we expected. There were about 250 there during the day."

A few dozen people also attended a church service and a talk later in the day.

The 1642 clash saw Royalist William Cavendish, the first Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne, lead 8,000 men to Piercebridge to meet about 500 Parliamentarian forces commanded by John Hotham.

Hotham had occupied nearby Cliffe, overlooking the bridge, but Cavendish managed to take the bridge – a key crossing over the Tees – after an artillery bombardment.

The battle took place on December 1, 1642, and was among the first battles to kick off the first English Civil War, which lasted until 1646.

A range of free activities to commemorate the event took place yesterday with displays of living history by the Newcastle Garrison re-enactors, as well as guided walks and armour handling, at the village's George Hotel. A service was held at Piercebridge Parish Church in memory of Royalist Thomas Howard and others who lost their lives in the battle.

It is hoped now hoped the event will become an annual one to help boost tourism in the area.

This year's event is part of a series organised by the Battlefields Trust.

In June, an intricate scale model of the battle was created by Mr Hornsby and will be taken round local schools to help teach them about local history.