When the bridges over the River Serge had been swept away by torrents, he ordered his soldiers to make craft of basketwork and hide, just as he had seen being used in Britain. Another Roman author, Pliney, speaks of a six-day navigation on the open sea with these coracles. The Teifi coracle is a river coracle but the curragh of Western Ireland is a sea going craft. The use of both was obviously widespread throughout Britain in Roman times. It is worthy of notice however that a local coracle handler paddled even the Teifi coracle across the English channel a few years ago. Just as the curragh is now confined to Western Ireland, so the coracle is only found on the Rivers Teifi and Towy in Wales. While the Towy coracle is oval in shape, that used on the Teifi has its front or bow flattened. The framework of the Teifi coracle is made of split willow rods formed into a sort of basket and firmly plaited around the edges. A narrow ashen board, placed across the middle, forms the seat and to this is attached a twisted rod to form a sling for the fisherman to carry his coracle on his back. Nowadays the framework is covered with calico coated with pitch to make it waterproof. Formerly, a coarse thick flannel was used coated with pitch and tar mixed with tallow, and before that thick, rawhide was used.

previous page..........next page