Saturday, 4 December 2010


The Coracle is an ancient one-person boat with a long history. Coracles (from the Welsh "cwrwgl") date back thousands of years. They have been in large use in the British Isles from pre-Roman times, mainly for the transport of fish, meat, grain or reeds, by the celtic population.

Designed for use in the swiftly flowing streams of Wales and parts of the rest of Britain and Ireland, the coracles were noted by Julius Caesar in his invasion of Britain in the mid first century BC, and he used them in his campaigns in Spain. But already Timaeus , a greek historian of III B.C., had referred the coracles in Cornwall - and some historians believe they date back from neolithic age.

Their prime use is for the purposes of transport and fishing.

Originally covered with animal skins, coracles are traditionally made of willow or ash laths and covered with calico or canvas impregnated with pitch and tar or, more recently, bitumastic paint.

The structure has a keel-less, flat bottom to evenly spread the weight of the boat and its load across the structure and to reduce the required depth of water. That's partircularly well fitted to the Welsh calm streams, like those around Langollen.

River Dwyryd, Wales

Coracles are so light and portable that they can easily be carried on the fisherman's shoulders when proceeding to and from his work. They are usually propelled with a single paddle held in two hands over the bow, executing a figure of 8 movement.

They can also be found in India (parisal) , Vietnam (tchung-chai) and Tibet (ku-dru), and even in Iraq (quffa). In Asia, they are built of interwoven bamboo and waterproofed by using resin and coconut oil.