What is Giant’s Causeway?
Giant’s Causeway is a unique geological formation of basalt columns that create a “road” or walkway leading into the North Atlantic Ocean just south of Scotland. It is comprised of nearly 40,000 pillars. It is a part of the National Trust, which promotes the preservation of natural wonders, and was also named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.
Where is Giant’s Causeway located?
It is on the coast of Northern Ireland in County Antrim. The entire formation is approximately four miles long.
How was it created?
It is believed that during the Paleogene Period, which was 50-60 million years ago, lava from erupting volcanoes covered the area and then cooled as the sea reached it. Layers and layers of the lava formed the basalt columns, which likely became this shape due to pressure between the different pockets. Over time, natural erosion and weather conditions revealed the pillars in their current state.
What is the story or legend that surrounds it?
Rather than surrounding its existence, it is, perhaps, the legend that makes Giants Causeway so unique. In short, the story goes that Irish giant Finn MacCool was teased by Scottish giant Benandonner. It even went so far as for Benandonner to tell Finn he was weak.
This provoked Finn to tear off pieces of the cliffs along the edge of Ireland to create a path to Scotland. However, when he traversed the path and arrived in Scotland, he realized Benandonner was much stronger and larger than he, and quickly made an about-face to return home.
When the Scottish giant followed, Finn’s wife cleverly disguised him as their baby. Upon seeing the “baby,” Benandonner thought if he was that large then the dad (Finn) must be a real giant. He quickly took the pathway back home to Scotland, tearing it up as he went to make sure Finn would not follow him. Hence, Giant’s Causeway gets its name from this tale.
What types of activities can you enjoy there?
If you want to learn more about these breathtaking, natural formations, you walk with one of the knowledgeable tour guides or you can pick up an audio guide and give yourself the tour.
If exploring is your thing, there are numerous walking trails that allow you to see both the pillars and the plant life on them. Additionally, many visitors enjoy seeing specific parts of the formation such as The Giant’s Boot, which is reported to have been lost by Finn in the legend; The Wishing Chair, a seat that was naturally created in the formation; and The Camel, which is a natural formation in the shape of this mammal. Finally, the Visitor’s Centre is also a popular—and resourceful—destination for those who come to Giant’s Causeway.
Learn more and plan your visit at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway.