It may have taken six centuries but Poole is finally saying sorry for the piratical exploits of buccaneer Harry Paye in Spain.

The notorious "Arripay" sacked the town of Gijon in northern Spain in 1398 and stole the area's most famous cross from a church in Finisterre.

His capture of French and Spanish vessels and raids on 40 coastal town and villages prompted the Spanish to retaliate by setting fire to his home town of Poole in 1405.

The exploits of the pirate are celebrated in the annual Harry Paye Charity Fun Day parade in June and now the organisers have decided to make restitution.

A four-foot wooden cross has been crafted in Poole, incorporating a piece of a brass bell recovered from a Spanish ship wrecked off the Scilly Isles.

This has been sent on its way at Poole's parish church of St James by the rector, the Rev Bob Mason and Canon Peter Webb of Our Lady of Fatima, Parkstone, and will be presented to Mayor Jose Traba by modern day Pirates of Poole.

"We thought it would be a nice idea to make a cross, get it presented by a church in Poole and take it back in recompense for one of Harry Paye's dirty deeds," said Roger Laird, organising committee secretary.

"We have no idea what happened to the original cross," said David Watkins of Poole Museum.

"If it was precious metal he probably melted it down."

He added: "The Spanish are quite excited about it, excited and puzzled after 600 years."

The Harry Paye Charity Fun Day at Poole Quay on June 21 is combined with Poole Afloat and the Fishermen's Regatta.

Fishery protection boat HMS Penzance will be tied up alongside the quay and all of the money raised from the fun and games will be donated to the Poole Hospital Wish List.