Who invented the Coracle

The Coracle is a little round boat. The use of the coracle was once prevalent throughout the British Isles.

The early History of the British Isles is a history of migrations. Scientists speculate that the first people to settle in Britain reached the islands via a land bridge or ice bridge during the Ice Age. However, the subsequent waves of immigrations; including the Celts, Angles, Saxons, Romans, and Normans; all most likely had to reach the islands by boat.

Although we know a fair amount about Roman and Norman water transport, the boats of the earlier peoples are lost in the mists of time. Since we are dealing in pre-history we can only speculate, but it seems a safe bet to say that some of this traveling was done in coracles although dug out canoes may also have been used. A pre-historic coracle was a small one man boat built from hides stretched over a light wood or wicker frame and waterproofed with whatever was available. Modern coracles are often built on a similar frame and covered with canvas or calico water proofed with pitch or bitumen. Traditionally they are usually round, and propelled by a paddle. Coracles are the type of boats Julius Caesar found the Britons using, and ordered his troops to build for use in a military campaign in Spain in 49 A.D.

The fact that these boats were once common throughout the islands and are still used in Wales points to the fact that they were once a dominant water transportation option. Although the few still in use today are used for fishing, coracles have been used for small scale transport and crossing rivers and other bodies of water without bridges for centuries untold. They are very light (under 20 lbs.) and can easily be carried over land. This made coracles a highly efficient fishing technology. Two primitive fishermen would carry their coracles and a net upriver. Then drift down on the current holding the net between them. Salmon and other river fish were caught with little more effort than walking upriver carrying the small boats. A few Welshmen still fish this way, and it was once a widespread practice, even on the Thames.

To my mind, whether or not the coracle was ever a key in early migration to the British Isles is an open question, but that they were a very important early water transportation technology is certain.

It wouldn’t be hard for you to know more about coracles than I do, as my research turned up very little.

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