The Giant’s Causeway located in Northern Ireland close to the town of Bushmills is an area of more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986, and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 . In 2005 the Giant’s Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.
Giant Causeway was discovered in 1693 by the Bishop of Derry and even if some observers have arrived here in the 18th century, it remained unmarked till the end of the century.
The geologists agree that the Giant’sCauseway has a volcanic origin. When the melt lava sets on a flat layer of basalt, it cools and contracts very slowly and regularly. The lava’s chemical composition shows that the tension accumulated in the cooled layer acts equally around a central point and spreads the lava in a regular shape, usually a hexagon. That’s how the columns from the Giant Causeway were created when 60 million years ago a great part of Northern Ireland and Western Scotland became volcanic active.
A headland from the North Ireland’s Coast offers the world the most wonderful sample of what can happen when the volcanic lava cools slowly: tens of thousands of geometric columns, gathered in some kind of a honeycomb, form a ladder which descends to the sea.The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. The columns are approximately 6 meters tall. The composition of the Causeway is also amazing: about 40,000 basalt columns, all of them polygons with regular shapes, hexagons stuck so well, that you can barely dig a knife between them.
Most of the columns are hexagonal . The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places. The Giant Causeway’s columns are grouped in three natural platforms, called Grand Causeway, Middle Causeway and Little Causeway. Some rocks from the group were fanciful called The Wishing Chair, The Fan, Chimney Tops and Giant’s Organ.
At the other side of MacCool’s way, at 120 km distance, Staffa Island is surrounded by a 40 meter ring of high rocks, made of the same basalt columns as the way. Here, Fingal’s Cave, named after the giant Finn Gall, penetrates the island on a distance of 60 meters. The floor, the walls and the ceiling are made of black basalt.
Giant’s Causeway Legend
According to the legend, the Irish giant Finn MacCool built a way through the Atlantic Ocean from his shelter in Antrim region’s coast (Northern Ireland) to Hebride, the fortress of his enemy, the Scotchman Finn Gall. But the Scottish giant has taken first the initiative crossing over from his island Staffa to Ireland. When MacCool’s wife convinced Finn Gall that the giant who was sleeping was her baby, he ran scared thinking how giant should be the father of that child. When he got safe on the sea, Finn Gall started to destroy the way behind him so it could never be used again.
Even if the scientists explained how Giant Causeway was created, it’s easy to understand why the legend appeared: the length of the causeway gives the impression that it was built by human hands. Seen from the air, the Causeway seems like a paved way spread on 275 meters of coast and penetrates the Northern region with 150 meters, in the Atlantic Ocean.
The site first became popular with tourists during the nineteenth century, particularly after the opening of the Giant’s Causeway Tramway. Visitors can now walk over the basalt columns which are at the edge of the sea, a half mile walk from the entrance to the site and be astound by the incredible beauty of the Giant’s Causeway , a ladder from the sea .
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Category: Northern Ireland