Sunday, December 28, 2014

#644 Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, UK

It is easy to see what this magnificent natural formation is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has inspired and sustained legends and while there are similar formations (like Fingal's Cave on Scottish isle Staffa on the other side of the sea), it is unique. At most 12 meters high and around 28 meters thick in the widest places, they were formed during a volcanic eruption during the Paleogene period 50-60 million years ago as the lava cooled near the limestone forming a similar structure to dried, cracked mud. However, the stones just form part of a 3800 square kilometer area including the surrounding 100m cliffs, which form the largest remaining lava plateau in Europe.

Part of the Antrim peninsula in Northern Ireland, people have been visiting as tourists since the 1693 'discovery' by the Royal Society. It was a popular feature on The Grand Tour as well, popularized by Miss Susana Drury's paintings.
An aerial photo from the website.

The coastline is dotted with similar coves,all part of the same formation, although not all have the unique columns!
Known as Clochán an Aifir or Clochán na bhFomhórach in Irish, it's name comes from the legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill, who built the causeway when he was challenged to a fight by Scottish giant Benandonner. Benandonner was tricked when he discovered when Fionn's wife Oonagh pretended he was a baby. From the size of the Fionn 
'baby' and speculation as to the size of the father, Benandonner fled to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him. so that Fionn couldn't follow.

Seen from above.
Unfortunately, a rainy day when wen went!
Stepping stones as perfectly fit together as in a jigsaw puzzle. There are supposed to be around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, most of six sides (hexagonal), but a few with more or less.
The narrow gap between the causeway and the mainland. Other features at the site include a 'Giant's Boot' and an 'organ' (stacks).

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