Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs,for centuries the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists,stirred scientific debate and captured the imagination of all who see it.
Drive along the famous Causeway Coast,and one stunning site leads to another,from the craggy castle ruins of Dunluce Castle to the pale cream sands of Whiterocks Beach.But as you weave along this great driving route,one sight jumps out as truly spectacular. the Giant’s Causeway.
Stand on the hills that gently arc this precious place and you will look down on thousands of basalt comlumns tumbling down into the Atlantic Ocean.It is an epic sight,with a whooping 40,000 or so of these hexagonal-shaped pillars,which dates back to a volcanic age almost 60 million years ago.
According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhail(Finn MacCool), from the 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. 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. 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.
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