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The Coracle History

By June 22, 2018Boating

Coracles move stealthily atop the water and are ideal for fishing. Their shallow drafting hull allows maneuvering with ease in a few inches of water.

Although these small boats may be making a comeback, they’re no hipster trend, Coracles have been in use for centuries. The British have deployed these small craft for pole and net fishing since the infancy of seafaring. In addition to fishing, these small watercraft have been used for everything from football recovery to war efforts. According to, the Coracle is known as one of the world’s oldest boats. They’re shaped like baskets and typically made of animal skins.

The Coracle may have predated the written word. Some believe that anglers used these watercraft during Prehistoric Times. These tiny watercraft were invented by the British and Welsh. However, many cultures have borrowed the ingenious design, even the Romans used the craft as a conveyance of warfare.

Although most accredit the British with the invention of the small craft, historic examples of the device have been found everywhere from Tibet to the Americas. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Native Americans utilized a similar design, the boats were covered in Buffalo hide. Additionally, the Coracles were used in Tibet for crossing rivers to trade goods.

These intriguing craft can be captained in places other craft can’t, such as cave streams. Two Speleologists, the Morgan Brothers, used a Coracle to explore the Dan-Yr-Ogof Caves, during 1912. The watercraft’s shallow hull made it possible to go where other boats would struggle.

Coracles were a common modality of transportation during the Twentieth Century, among the British. Coracles were even used to get to work. During the Industrial Revolution workers used the small craft to cross the Severn River for jobs at factories.

During the Vietnamese Conflict, The Coracle was used to escape war zones. Refugees were placed in bamboo baskets and sent down river, in hopes of bypassing land-mines and arriving safely in Honk Kong.
Until the 1960’s, Coracles were used for the Annual Washing of the Sheep. Yearly, along the Teifi Rivers, sheep were forced to jump out of Coracles and swim the span of the river. It was believed that jumping from Coracles made the sheep’s wool more clean.

During the Late Twentieth Century, Fred Davies became known for retrieving footballs from the Severn River via Coracle. Always alert for the getaway ball, Davies waited behind the Shrewsbury Football Club. He often crossed the river three times or more to return footballs.

Today, Coracles can be seen as signs for pubs, they’re just so strange looking. Additionally, Shrewsbury holds an annual Coracle race.
Sourced from CNN, unless otherwise noted


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