Giant's Causeway, County Antrim
For centuries countless visitors have marveled at the majesty and mystery of the Giants Causeway. At the heart of one of Europe’s most magnificent coastlines its unique rock formations have, for millions of years, stood as a natural rampart against the unbridled ferocity of Atlantic storms. The rugged symmetry of the columns never fails to intrigue and inspire visitors. To stroll on the Giants Causeway is to voyage back in time.
Your imagination will travel along stepping stones that lead to either the creative turbulence of a bygone volcanic age or into the mists and legends of the past. In 1986 the Giants Causeway Visitors centre opened, coinciding with the World Heritage Conventions addition of the Causeway to its coveted list of sites, which are of exceptional interest and universal value.
The facilities at the Causeway Centre now include Tourist Information offices, Bureau De Change, Accommodation Booking Service, an Interpretive Audio-Visual Presentation and a Souvenir Shop. The National Trust are the custodians of the Causeway and provide the National Trust Shop and Tea Rooms. The Causeway Coaster bus service from the centre to the Causeway is running in conjunction with the opening hours of the centre. The range of amenities on offer is geared to accommodate your individual needs and ensure that all guests can benefit from and enjoy their visit.
When the news of the "discovery" of an amazing natural phenomenon broke on an unsuspecting world in 1693, the news caused quite a stir in 'the polite society' of the time and in 1697 a draughtsman was sent to make drawings of the Natural Curiosity on the North East tip of the island of Ireland. What seems remarkable to us now, in the 21st Century, is that there was much argument as to whether the Causeway had been created by men with picks and chisels, by nature, or by the efforts of a giant. For in the 17th Century nothing like it had been seen before. It was not until 1771 that a Frenchman, Demarest, announced the origin of the causeway to be the result of volcanic action.
Sixty million years ago Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten rock was forced up through fissures in the chalk bed to form an extensive lava plateau.
The dramatic cliff like edge of the plateau forms the Causeway coastline. The larger fissures, through which the lava flowed, can be clearly seen as bands of dark rock which cut down the cliff faces and jut out to sea. There were three periods of volcanic activity which resulted in the flows, known as the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts.
It is the Middle Basalts rocks which forms the columns of the Giants Causeway. The rapidly cooling lava contracted and variations in the cooling rate resulted in the world famous columnar structure. The columns are mainly hexagonal though there are some with up to eight sides.
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