WITH a burst of musket fire and a flash of steel, civil war re-enactors marked a bloody milestone in British history - 370 years since the Battle of Worcester.

It was the battle that changed the course of British history forever and sowed in blood the seeds of our system of Parliamentary democracy, one which countries across the world have aspired to replicate, emulate and imitate.

But the imposing pikemen and musketeers of the Battle of Worcester Society who gathered at the Living History Camp and Battle at Worcester Woods Country Park on Saturday and Sunday gave a less than subtle hint of the bloody price of those liberties we enjoy today and the cruelty of the struggle in which our freedoms are rooted. Hundreds of people attended on Saturday and were treated to demonstrations which brought to life the drama and drudgery of the age.

Few of the enthusiasts gathered at the camp doubt the significance of the battle, the last of the English Civil War which took place on September 3, 1651. In its wake the future King Charles II fled for his life as the Parliamentarians - Cromwell's New Model Army - routed the Royalists.

The conflict was part of a much wider struggle which engulfed England, Scotland and Ireland called The Wars of the Three Kingdoms.

Among those men to appreciate and commemorate the importance of the battle is Brian Bullock, a stalwart of the society, who cuts a striking figure dressed as a civilian musketeer fighting for Parliament.

The 67-year-old said of his interest in the period: "I like it because of what came out of it. We have got the Government we have got and the Parliamentary system we have now - that all came after the Civil War, stopping the Divine Right of Kings."

He said many people he had spoken to did not know the date of the battle and some had even asked him if it took place during the Wars of the Roses.

Mr Bullock added: "People need to know more about history. That's why I joined the Battle of Worcester Society - the society is there to promote the battle and its importance in Britain's history and especially for Worcester. We were at the heart of it - the beginning and the end."

His wife, Catherine Bullock, 63, adopted the role of a camp follower. Women played a much more important role in the battle than people may understand - carrying water, cooking, doing the laundry and repairing kit.

Tents set up around the camp provided a window back into what life would have been like in those times, including the sorts of food soldiers and their followers could expect to eat

Sharon Lippett, 58, of Worcester was in the costume of a camp follower and under no illusions about the importance of women at the time who often accompanied their men on the way to war.

"An army marches on it's stomach" she says, repeating the well known proverb. However, because of her clothes she said she was recently mistaken for being German when at an event in Nottingham.

Some re-enactors, explaining how to operate a musket, had lead balls recovered from Civil War battles and told the crowds how muskets were primed, loaded and fired.