Coracles are small, keel-less boats, traditionally made as a basketwork frame, covered with an animal hide. There is evidence in cave paintings of them being in use from the early Bronze Age, and perhaps as far back as the Ice Age.
Modern coracles tend to be built nowadays with sawn or hand-clefted laths and covered with canvas or calico, or synthetic fabric and waterproofed with pitch or bitumen paint. They can still be seen as regular working boats for transportation or fishing in many countries including Vietnam, Tibet, India, Iraq and China.
In south west Wales, net fishing from coracles is increasingly under threat and is now restricted to three rivers in west Wales. However, coracles are still to be found on the River Severn and large, sea-going versions (currachs) are still in use on the west coast of Ireland.
The Society is an organisation, formed in 1990, with the aim of promoting the use and history of these and their allied craft. We do this with the support of our members, some of whom are coracle builders dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. They demonstrate the traditions of coracle building and "coracling" (paddling a coracle) to people of all backgrounds - from primary school pupils, to teenage youth groups, families, local organisations and the general public. Coracle demonstrations appear in all sorts of places and events - schools, family fun days, marine and agricultural shows, scout groups, outdoor education centres and, of course, coracle-related events.
The Society aims to be community open to all, whether they wish to research the fascinating history of the craft, or simply get out on the water and have a good time. Many of our members have built their own coracles, which gives them an added pleasure to gentle river trips. No matter how hard you try, a coracle doesn’t go fast, so we relax and go with the flow.
Since the formation of The Coracle Society in 1990, interest in coracles and coracle building has undergone something of a revival, with enthusiasts around the world enjoying the delights of these simple, little craft. In 2010, we celebrated our 20th anniversary.