Coracle - Encyclopedia


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CORACLE (Welsh corwg-1, from corwg, cf. Irish and mod. Gaelic curach, boat), a species of ancient British fishing-boat which is still extensively used on the Severn and other rivers of Wales, notably on the Towy and Teifi. It is a light boat, oval in shape, and formed of canvas stretched on a framework of split and interwoven rods, and well-coated with tar and pitch to render it water-tight. According to early writers the framework was covered with horse or bullock hide (corium). So light and portable are these boats that they can easily be carried on the fisherman's shoulders when proceeding to and from his work. Coracle-fishing is performed by two men, each seated in his coracle and with one hand holding the net while with the other he plies his paddle. When a fish is caught, each hauls up his end of the net until the two coracles are brought to touch and the fish is then secured. The coracle forms a unique link between the modern life of Wales and its remote past; for this primitive type of boat was in existence amongst the Britons at the time of the invasion of Julius Caesar, who has left a description of it, and even employed it in his Spanish campaign.

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