The Amazing History of the Coracle
A most enjoyable, amusing and illuminating talk was given by Mr Mark Fowler at our meeting on 5th February on the history of the coracle. Martin is the owner/manager of the Cenarth Coracle Museum by the Mill. (I remember buying flour from that mill many, many years ago). With a collection of old historic photographs displayed on the screen, Mark took us though the ages of the craft of coracle making. It is hard for us now to realise that this industry was first recorded about 1800 BC when it was necessary to move people and animals across rivers.There is evidence that Noah’s Ark (which would have been about half the size of a football pitch by today’s standards) was built in this traditional way, and especially the ‘Moses’ basket which features in our Bible.Martin illustrated (with his caricature friend Dai) how the coracle was developed and built to cope with the different waterways and needs; but always with the flat bottom for stability but evolved with a square front for steering safely. Basically, they are of wood and bitumen, however in some countries they were lined with animal skins and in Dakota they were traditionally covered with the pelts of bison. When you think that a man rowed a coracle many years ago from Vietnam to Hong Kong, and also a man rowed a Coracle across the English Channel it proves the design and strength they are famous for.
Back to the UK – coracles were used on the Rivers Severn, Towy and many others, but we have our own on the Teifi. Martin’s cartoon pictures of Dai were wonderful with great captions, I think the one we liked best was the Dai-li-Lama and Dai from Wales!
Thank you, Martin, for a superb talk.