Share this menu

Curator’s Choice: Coracles

Photo of the Museum's two coracles, positioned side-by-side.

At first glance a coracle seems a rather unlikely water craft, with no discernible bow or stern, and a strangely shaped paddle for propulsion. But they have stood the test of time as working boats: made from locally sourced materials, cheap to build, light-weight for ease of carrying, and a draft of only a few inches for working in shallow waters and easy beaching.

Coracles have a history dating back thousands of years. They have been used in various countries, and in the British Isles from pre-Roman times. The frame is made from a basketwork of ash, willow or hazel which would originally have been covered with animal hide, but is now more likely to be bitumen-coated canvas.

Photo of the Museum's two coracles, positioned side-by-side.

In celebration of the 15 years since the National Maritime Museum Cornwall opened its doors (in 2003), we asked creative and professional writing students and staff at Falmouth University to respond creatively to 15 objects on display in the Museum. Anna Kiernana has written a piece inspired by the Coracles – you can read it in the 2018 edition of our annual journal Fathom available now in our Museum shop.

Book now

National Maritime Museum
Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388