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The Giant's Causeway
Causeway
is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic fissure eruption.[3][4] It is located in County Antrim
County Antrim
on the north coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills. It was declared a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
by UNESCO
UNESCO
in 1986, and a national nature reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times
Radio Times
readers, the Giant's Causeway
Causeway
was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.[5] The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres (92 ft) thick in places. Much of the Giant's Causeway
Causeway
and Causeway
Causeway
Coast World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.[6] The remainder of the site is owned by the Crown Estate and a number of private landowners.

Contents

1 Geology 2 Legend 3 Tourism

3.1 Visitors' centre

4 Notable features 5 Flora and fauna 6 Similar structures 7 Railway access 8 References 9 Sources and further reading 10 External links

Geology[edit] Around 50 to 60 million years ago,[3] during the Paleocene
Paleocene
Epoch, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which are also fractured horizontally into "biscuits". In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called "ball and socket" joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools.[7] The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau
Thulean Plateau
which formed during the Paleocene.[8] Legend[edit]

Engraving of Susanna Drury's A View of the Giant's Causeway: East Prospect, 1768

According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle
Fenian Cycle
of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner.[9] In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than he is. Fionn's wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn would be unable to chase him down.[10] Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal's Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.[11] In overall Irish mythology, Fionn mac Cumhaill
Fionn mac Cumhaill
is not a giant but a hero with supernatural abilities, contrary to what this particular legend may suggest. In Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888) it is noted that, over time, "the pagan gods of Ireland [...] grew smaller and smaller in the popular imagination, until they turned into the fairies; the pagan heroes grew bigger and bigger, until they turned into the giants".[12] There are no surviving pre-Christian stories about the Giant's Causeway, but it may have originally been associated with the Fomorians
Fomorians
(Fomhóraigh);[13] the Irish name Clochán na bhFomhóraigh or Clochán na bhFomhórach means "stepping stones of the Fomhóraigh". The Fomhóraigh are a race of supernatural beings in Irish mythology
Irish mythology
who were sometimes described as giants and who may have originally been part of a pre-Christian pantheon.[14] Tourism[edit]

Red basaltic prisms

The discovery of the Giant's Causeway
Causeway
is attributed to the Bishop of Derry
Derry
who had visited the site in 1692. The existence of the site was announced to the wider world the following year by the presentation of a paper to the Royal Society
Royal Society
from Sir Richard Bulkeley, a fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. The Giant's Causeway
Causeway
received international attention when Dublin artist Susanna Drury
Susanna Drury
made watercolour paintings of it in 1739; they won Drury the first award presented by the Royal Dublin Society in 1740 and were engraved in 1743.[15] In 1765 an entry on the Causeway
Causeway
appeared in volume 12 of the French Encyclopédie, which was informed by the engravings of Drury's work; the engraving of the "East Prospect" itself appeared in a 1768 volume of plates published for the Encyclopédie.[16] In the caption to the plates French geologist Nicolas Desmarest
Nicolas Desmarest
suggested, for the first time in print, that such structures were volcanic in origin. The site first became popular with tourists during the nineteenth century, particularly after the opening of the Giant's Causeway Tramway, and only after the National Trust took over its care in the 1960s were some of the vestiges of commercialism removed. Visitors can walk over the basalt columns which are at the edge of the sea, a half-mile walk from the entrance to the site. Visitors' centre[edit]

Giant's Causeway
Causeway
at sunset

The Causeway
Causeway
was without a permanent visitors' centre between 2000 and 2012, as the previous building, built in 1986, burned down in 2000.[17] Public money was set aside to construct a new centre and, following an architectural competition, a proposal was accepted to build a new centre, designed by Dublin architectural practice Heneghan Peng, which was to be set into the ground to reduce impact to the landscape. A privately financed proposal was given preliminary approval in 2007 by the Environment Minister and DUP member Arlene Foster.[18] However, the public money that had been allocated was frozen as a disagreement developed about the relationship between the private developer Seymour Sweeney and the DUP.[19] It was also debated whether a private interest should be permitted to benefit from the site – given its cultural and economic importance and as it is largely owned by the National Trust. Coleraine Borough Council
Coleraine Borough Council
voted against the private plans and in favour of a public development project,[20] and Moyle District Council
Moyle District Council
similarly signalled its displeasure and gave the land on which the previous visitors' centre stood to the National Trust. This gave the Trust control of both the Causeway
Causeway
and surrounding land. Ultimately Mr. Sweeney dropped a legal challenge to the publicly funded plan.[21] In 2007, the Giant's Causeway
Causeway
visitor centre was awarded with a National Award of Excellence for 'Best Tour Visit' by CIE Tours International, for the 5th consecutive year.[22] The new visitor centre was officially opened by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness
in July 2012,[23] with funding having been raised from the National Trust, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund
and public donations.[24] Since opening, the new visitor centre has garnered very mixed reviews from those visiting the Causeway
Causeway
for its pricing, design, contents and placement across the causeway walk descent.[25] There was some controversy regarding the content of some exhibits in the visitor centre, which refer to the Young Earth Creationist view of the age of the Earth.[26][27] While these inclusions were welcomed by the chairman of the Northern Irish evangelical group, the Caleb Foundation,[28] the National Trust stated that the inclusions formed only a small part of the exhibition and that the Trust "fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago."[29] An online campaign to remove creationist material was launched in 2012, and following this, the Trust carried out a review and concluded that they should be amended to have the scientific explanation on the causeway's origin as their primary emphasis. Creationist explanations are still mentioned, but presented as a traditional belief of some religious communities rather than a competing explanation for the causeway's origins.[30] Notable features[edit] Some of the structures in the area, having been subject to several million years of weathering, resemble objects, such as the Organ and Giant's Boot structures. Other features include many reddish, weathered low columns known as Giants Eyes, created by the displacement of basalt boulders; the Shepherd's Steps; the Honeycomb; the Giant's Harp; the Chimney Stacks; the Giant's Gate and the Camel's Hump.

The Giant's Boot

Basalt
Basalt
columns

The Chimney Stacks

Flora and fauna[edit] The area is a haven for seabirds such as fulmar, petrel, cormorant, shag, redshank, guillemot and razorbill, while the weathered rock formations host a number of plants including sea spleenwort, hare's-foot trefoil, vernal squill, sea fescue and frog orchid. A stromatolite colony was reportedly found at the Giants Causeway
Causeway
in October 2011 – an unusual find, as stromatolites are more commonly found in warmer waters with higher saline content than that found at the causeway.[31] Similar structures[edit] Main article: List of places with columnar jointed volcanics Although the basaltic columns of the Giant's Causeway
Causeway
are impressive, they are not unique. Basalt
Basalt
columns are a common volcanic feature, and they occur on many scales (because faster cooling produces smaller columns). Railway access[edit] The Belfast- Derry
Derry
railway line run by Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Railways connects to Coleraine and along the Coleraine- Portrush
Portrush
branch line to Portrush. Local Ulsterbus provide connections to the railway stations. There is a scenic walk of 7 miles from Portrush
Portrush
alongside Dunluce Castle and the Giant's Causeway
Causeway
and Bushmills
Bushmills
Railway. References[edit]

^ "Clochán an Aifir / Giant's Causeway
Causeway
- Placenames Database of Ireland". Placenames Commission. Retrieved 8 September 2014.  ^ The Crack: Yin giant step for mankind The News Letter. Retrieved 16 October 2011. ^ a b "Giant's Causeway
Causeway
and Causeway
Causeway
Coast". UNESCO
UNESCO
World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 21 June 2009.  ^ Jack Challoner, John Farndon, Rodney Walshaw (2004). Rocks, Minerals and the Changing Earth. Southwater. p. 19. CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ Report of poll result BBC.co.uk Retrieved 10 December 2006. ^ "Giant's Causeway
Causeway
remains Northern Ireland's Top Attraction" (Press release). Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Tourist Board. 18 August 2008. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2009.  ^ "University of Toronto (2008, December 25). Mystery of Hexagonal Column Formations".  ^ Geoffroy, Laurent; Bergerat, Françoise; Angelier, Jacques (September 1996). "Brittle tectonism in relation to the Palaeogene evolution of the Thulean/NE Atlantic domain: a study in Ulster". Geological Journal. 31 (3): 259–269. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1034(199609)31:3<259::AID-GJ711>3.0.CO;2-8. Retrieved 10 November 2007.  ^ "The Giant's Causeway". The Dublin Penny Journal, issue 5 (1832), p.33 ^ Jones, Richard. Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland. New Holland Publishers, 2006. p.131 ^ Formation of basalt columns / pseudocrystals Archived 7 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Giants". Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (1888). Sacred-Texts.com. ^ Lyle, Paul. Between Rocks and Hard Places: Discovering Ireland's Northern Landscapes. The Stationery Office, 2010. p.3 ^ Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. Infobase Publishing, 2004. p.198 ^ Arnold, Irish Art, p. 62. ^ "Susanna Drury, the Causeway, and the Encyclopédie, 1768" Archived 28 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine.. Lindahall.org. Retrieved 14 March 2007. ^ BBC News
BBC News
– Investigation into Causeway
Causeway
blaze – 30 April, 2000 ^ BBC News
BBC News
– Developer set to get Causeway
Causeway
nod – 10 September 2007 ^ BBC News
BBC News
– Developer's DUP link 'no bearing' – 11 September 2007 ^ BBC News
BBC News
Causeway
Causeway
must be public ; council – 12 September 2007 ^ BBC News
BBC News
– Developer ends Causeway
Causeway
challenge – May 2009 ^ "Home - The Giants Causeway
Causeway
Official Guide". www.giantscausewayofficialguide.com. Retrieved 2017-08-27.  ^ Maguire, Anna (5 July 2012). " Causeway
Causeway
visitors' centre: A giant leap forward?". Belfast
Belfast
Telegraph. Retrieved 5 July 2012.  ^ "Giants Causeway
Causeway
gets £9m tourist board grant". BBC. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2012.  ^ "Giants Causeway
Causeway
Visitor Centre Reviews, Trip Advisor". Trip Advisor. 15 September 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.  ^ "National Trust in Giant's Causeway
Causeway
creationism row". The Independent. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.  ^ " Causeway
Causeway
centre gives creationist view". U TV. 4 July 2012. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.  ^ "Online group calls for removal of creationist exhibit at Giant's Causeway". BBC Northern Ireland. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.  ^ "Trust in Causeway
Causeway
creationism row". Irish Independent. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 6 July 2012.  ^ Trust amends Causeway
Causeway
centre 'Creationist' exhibit BBC News, 3 October 2012 (retrieved 30 Nov 2012) ^ Stromatolite
Stromatolite
colony found in Giant's Causeway, BBC News. 14 October 2011.

Sources and further reading[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: 'The Giant's Causeway', a poem by L. E. L

Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The Giant's Causeway
Causeway
(poem) Arnold, Bruce (2002). Irish Art: A Concise History. New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-20148-X Jagla, E. A.; Rojo, A. G. (2002). "Sequential fragmentation: the origin of columnar quasihexagonal patterns". Physical Review E. 65 (2): 026203. Bibcode:2002PhRvE..65b6203J. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.65.026203.  Philip S. Watson (2000). The Giant's Causeway. O'Brien: Printing Press. ISBN 0-86278-675-4.  Deane, C. Douglas. 1983. The Ulster Countryside. Century Books. ISBN 0-903152-17-7

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Giant's Causeway.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Giant's Causeway.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Giant's Causeway.

Giant's Causeway
Causeway
information at the National Trust Website and video of the Causeway
Causeway
Coast and Glens Heritage Trust Causeway
Causeway
Coast And Glens Tourism – Official Tourist Board visitor information for the Causeway
Causeway
and surrounding area Landscapes Unlocked – Aerial footage from BBC Sky High series explaining the physical, social & economic geography of Northern Ireland

v t e

Geology
Geology
of Northern Ireland

Volcanism

Antrim plateau Benevenagh Black Mountain Cavehill Divis Donald's Hill Giant's Causeway Murlough Bay Rathlin Island

Basalt
Basalt
columns at Giant's Causeway

Volcanic
Volcanic
plugs

Carrick a Rede Scawt Hill Slemish Slieve Gallion Slieve Gullion Tievebulliagh

Dykes and Sills

Fair Head Ring of Gullion The Maidens The Skerries

Metamorphic

Benbradagh Loughermore Mourne Mountains Mullaghcarn Mullaghmore Sawel Mountain Slieve Bearnagh Slieve Binnian Slieve Commedagh Slieve Croob Slieve Donard Slieve Gallion Slieve Muck Sperrins

Sedimentary

Belmore Mountain Benaughlin Mountain Cuilcagh Hibernian Greensands Group Islandmagee Magheramorne Marble Arch Caves Slieve Rushen Ulster White Limestone Group Waterloo Bay

Lists

Geological faults of Northern Ireland

v t e

Museums and galleries in Northern Ireland

National museums

Armagh County Museum Ulster American Folk Park Ulster Folk and Transport Museum Ulster Museum W5

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Environment Agency

Ballycopeland Windmill Bellaghy Bawn Carrickfergus
Carrickfergus
Castle Castle Archdale Country Park Derry
Derry
City Walls Devenish Monastic Site Dundrum Castle Dunluce Castle Greencastle Grey Abbey Harry Avery's and Newtownstewart Castle Hillsborough Courthouse Inch Abbey Jordan's Castle Monuments and Buildings Record Navan Fort Nendrum Monastic Site Tullaghoge Tully Castle

National Trust

Ardress House The Argory Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Castle Coole Castle Ward Crom Estate Crown Liquor Saloon Derrymore House Downhill Estate (Mussenden Temple) Florence Court Giant's Causeway Gray's Printing Press Hezlett House Mount Stewart Murlough Nature Reserve Patterson's Spade Mill Rowallane Garden Springhill House Wellbrook Beetling Mill

Other museums and galleries

Belfast
Belfast
Exposed Down County Museum Downpatrick and County Down Railway Irish Republican History Museum Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
War Memorial Ormeau Baths Gallery Railway Preservation Society of Ireland Saint Patrick Visitor Centre Somme Heritage Centre

v t e

World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom

England

Bath Blenheim Palace Canterbury Cathedral, St. Augustine's Abbey and St. Martin's Church Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape Derwent Valley Mills Durham Castle
Durham Castle
and Cathedral Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Hadrian's Wall

Ironbridge Gorge Jurassic Coast Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Lake District Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City Maritime Greenwich Saltaire Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites Studley Royal Park
Studley Royal Park
and Fountains Abbey Tower of London Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
and St. Margaret's Church

Scotland

Edinburgh Old Town and New Town Forth Bridge Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Antonine Wall

Heart of Neolithic Orkney New Lanark St. Kilda

Wales

Blaenavon Industrial Landscape Castles and Town Walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Northern Ireland

Giant's Causeway

British Overseas Territories

Gorham's Cave
Gorham's Cave
Complex Gough Island Inaccessible Island Henderson Island Town of St. George and Related Fortifications

v t e

Places in County Antrim

List of places in County Antrim

Cities

Belfast
Belfast
(part) Lisburn
Lisburn
(part)

Towns

Antrim Ballycastle Ballyclare Ballymena Ballymoney Carrickfergus Larne Newtownabbey Portrush Randalstown

Villages

Aghagallon Aghalee Ahoghill Aldergrove Armoy Aughafatten Ballinderry Upper Ballinderry Lower Ballintoy Ballybogy Ballycarry Ballyeaston Ballygally Ballylinny Ballynure Ballyrobert Ballystrudder Ballyvoy Balnamore Bendooragh Broughshane Buckna Bushmills Capecastle Cargan Carnalbanagh Carncastle Carnlough Clogh Cloghmills Cogry-Kilbride Craigarogan Crumlin Cullybackey Cushendall Cushendun Dervock Derrymore Doagh Donegore Drains Bay Dunadry Dundrod Dunloy Gawley's Gate Glenarm Glenavy Glenoe Glynn Gracehill Grange Corner Greenisland Groggan Kells-Connor Kellswater Keshbridge Killead Knocknacarry Longkesh Loughguile Lurganure Lurganville Maghaberry Magheramorne Martinstown Mill Bay Millbank Milltown Moneyglass Monkstown Moss-Side Mounthill Mullaghboy Newtown Crommelin Parkgate Portballintrae Portbraddon Portglenone Rasharkin Roughfort Stoneyford Straid Stranocum Templepatrick Toome Tullynacross Waterfoot Whitehead

Townlands

Ballycraigy Barmeen Bonnybefore Broomhedge Broomhedge
Broomhedge
Lower Carnmoney Dunamuggy Dunmurry Dunseverick Galgorm Parks Glengormley Jordanstown Kilroot Lambeg Lisnagarvy Loughlynch Monkstown Rathcoole Solar Tobergill White Abbey

Landforms

Belfast
Belfast
Lough Benbane Head Black Mountain Cavehill Divis Fair Head Giant's Causeway Glens of Antrim Glenariff Forest Park Islandmagee Lagan Valley Larne
Larne
Lough Lough Beg Portmore Lough Rathlin Island Scawt Hill Slemish Slieve True Slieveanorra Forest Tievebulliagh Waterloo Bay

Baronies

Antrim Lower Antrim Upper Belfast
Belfast
Lower Belfast
Belfast
Upper Carrickfergus Cary Dunluce Lower Dunluce Upper Glenarm
Glenarm
Lower Glenarm
Glenarm
Upper Kilconway Massereene Lower Massereene Upper Toome
Toome
Lower Toome
Toome
Upper

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