The construction of a coracle

We are pleased to present you another one of our recreation videos, where we explain briefly the boats of the Galician period and where you can see the construction of the most important of them, used to navigate small waterways. We hope you like it!

Analyzing in historical texts references to native boats in the Galician territory, we find a text of Avieno, Latin writer and poet of the IV century A.D., that in his descriptive poem of the Iberian Peninsula titled “Ora Marítima” dedicates a fragment to talk about the oestrymnios people, who inhabited the Galician-Portuguese coasts during the Bronze Age.

The oestrymnios are the first known name we have of the ancient inhabitants of Galicia. Avieno described them as a people of great strength, high spirits and effective skill. All of them were dominated by the passion for trade and with boats of sewn skins they bravely swept the murky sea and the abyss of the Ocean full of monsters, because they did not remember to build their ships with wood, as it is customary, but, as a matter of admiration, they always built their ships with joined skins, frequently crossing the vast sea on the coiro”.

Although Avieno does not specify whether they used oars or sail, it is possible that they knew the techniques of sailing, since they were already in contact with Mediterranean navigators.

Already in the period that includes the Castrexa Culture, the Greek geographer Estrabón, publishes in the first century a work composed by 17 volumes on geography. In the third volume, dedicated to Iberia, he indicates that until the times of Décimo Xuño Bruto, they used boats of coiro in the marshes and in the shallow interior waters, but that the boats made with only one trunk are rare.

After investigating boats that fit this description, we find the so-called “Coracle”, which are traditionally built with wooden rods made of sauce or hazel trees and covered with skins. A modern version of this type of boat is still built today in some parts of England and Wales to navigate on rivers.