The Giant Story
Antrim’s Giant’s Causeway is a 60-million-year-old story of science. Or is it?
The Giant’s Causeway hints at the magical: Near-perfect hexagon tubes are stacked next to each other like puzzle pieces.
Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim in Northern Ireland.
Something this mind bendingly beautiful couldn’t be the result of a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago, could it?
Well, there are two lines of thought on that one. The first involves a certain giant by the name of Finn McCool (also known as Fionn mac Cumhaill).
Finn is having trouble with someone across the water. The Scottish giant Benandonner is threatening Ireland. An enraged Finn grabs chunks of the Antrim coast and throws them into the sea. The rock forms a path for Finn to follow and teach Benandonner a lesson.
Bad idea – Benandonner is terrifyingly massive. Finn beats a hasty retreat, followed by the giant, only to be saved by our hero’s quick-thinking wife who disguised him as a baby. The angry Scot saw the baby and decided if the child was that big, the daddy must be really huge.
Mythical landscapes, magical tales
The locals believe the Fionn story holds water: “Of course it was Finn McCool [Fionn mac Cumhaill]!
Most visitors hear the stories and the science, but most visitors leave believing this place is an ancient home of a mighty giant.”
The science bit
The Giant’s Causeway is the aftermath of volcanic crashing, burning and cooling. An epic 60-million-year-old legacy to lava. Over 40,000 basalt columns. Interlocked.
It’s no wonder this place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because beyond the mindboggling beauty, the Causeway is our portal into Earth’s most ancient past.
The Causeway proper is a mass of basalt columns packed tightly together. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Altogether there are 40,000 of these stone columns, mostly hexagonal but some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 40 feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 90 feet thick in places.
A fine circular walk will take you down to the Grand Causeway, past amphitheatres of stone columns and formations with fanciful names like the Honeycomb, the Wishing Well, the Giant’s Granny and the King and his Nobles, past Port na Spaniagh where the Spanish Armada ship Girona foundered, past wooden staircase to Benbane Head and back along the cliff top.
Further down the coast, the stunning Carrick-a-rede rope bridge spans a gaping chasm between the coast and a small island used by fishermen. The terrifying eighty foot drop can be crossed via the swinging bridge – not for the faint hearted!
Whatever you choose to believe, there’s no disputing that the Causeway makes an incredible picture. Thousands of tourists click their cameras here every year, and when the Olympic Torch visited Northern Ireland, it was a photo opportunity not to be missed.
See the Giant’s Causeway for yourself and decide, science or science fiction? Book your trip through our website. Or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org we will gladly help you book your adventure to the Giant Causeway.
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Dianne & Mike