The Giant’s Causeway: Part Geology – Part Mythology

One of the most amazing Natural Wonders of the United Kingdom, the Giant’s Causeway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Located on the northern coast of County Antrim, near Bushmills (yes, whiskey Bushmills!) Giant’s Causeway is a must see for anyone.

Being a geologist, it was only a matter of time before I would marvel at this natural volcanic landscape for myself.  It’s a bit of a “Busman’s Holiday”, but it is stuff like this that got me interested in rocks in the first place!  My husband and I (he’s a Geologist too) made the pilgrimage, last August, as a day trip from our base just outside the town of Donegal.

It was a soft drizzle that escorted us from the visitor centre down the road to the main site on the shore.  We were able to enjoy it for long enough and walk back up the hill, before the rain started falling more heavily.  We, lazy folks that we are, decided not to walk along the cliff-top pathway to get a view from the top.

We were also getting “slightly” ticked off with people who would barge up to the information boards, that were on rotating drums about a horizontal axis (would you believe??), spin them around to the board they wanted to read without any consideration for those still reading the previous board!  I like to think that I am quite smart and can read up-side down, but frustration turns out to be quite a hindrance!

Just enough tourists for my liking - no more please!

Anyway, since then – I have had the pleasure of reading up what I want to, and for how long I want to take over it on the internet 🙂

So to share with you – here’s The Giant’s Causeway in a nutshell:

In a period of intense volcanic activity about 62 million years ago, associated with Mid Atlantic Ridge activity (think current day Iceland & recent eruptions), molten lava erupted through chalk beds in three phases – resulting in the Lower, Middle and Upper Basalts.

The Amphitheater

The lateral spread of these lavas would have originally been much greater than the present day’s extent.  Through processes of erosion they have been reduced to a mere 3800km2, yet they are still Europe’s most extensive lava field.

Chimney Tops

The first eruption, which resulted in the Lower Basalts (itself a collective of up to 11 individual lava flows), would have long since cooled, solidified and have been subject to thousands of years of erosion by water and ice before the second eruption of Middle Basalts.  The resulting undulating topography included deep river channels, which would have allowed the lava from the Middle Basalts to pond in greater thicknesses (up to 100m) than the average depth of lava flow.  The consequence of this greater depth is that it takes longer to cool than lava that is closer to the edges of the flow.

It is this slow cooling and contracting process which results in the formation of columnar joints that is seen at the world famous sites such as the Giant’s Causeway and Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa, which I visited some 20 years ago!

The Organ - perfect columns, topped with "jumbled" columns are most likely the result of water percolating down through the cooling lava before the columns were "set".

These two sites are not only linked geologically, they are also linked by mythology.

Two giants, Finn McCool from Ireland and Benandonner from Scotland, challenged each other to a trial of strength (i.e a big scrap).  Never having set eyes on each other, Finn started to build a causeway from County Antrim across the Sea of Moyle to Benandonner’s Lair, at Fingal’s Cave.

Only, he fell asleep halfway across. D’oh!

Mrs McCool, otherwise known as Oonagh and a giantess in her own right, heard the thunderous step of Benandonner and saw how much larger he was compared with her husband.  Quickly, she whipped out a bonnet and blanket (as you do) and disguised her, still sleeping, husband as her baby.

Benandonner, believing this to be so, wondered at the size of the father if this was the size of a baby and fled back to the Isle of Staffa – ripping up the causeway as he went so that Finn couldn’t follow him home.

Sources:

Wikipedia: Giant’s Causeway / Fingal’s Cave & Queen’s University Belfast & Giant’s Causeway Official Guide

Not all hexagonal - definitely polygonal..

August, 2010

UPDATE:

Thank you WordPress for Freshly Pressing this post and thank you to everyone who’s taken the time and trouble to read it, like it and leave a comment 🙂

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277 thoughts on “The Giant’s Causeway: Part Geology – Part Mythology

  1. My name is Carol Davis and I’m a fellow blogger and photography intern for the Vasa Transmedia Project. The Vasa Project’s vision is to bring photographers and other visual artists together to share work, ideas, exhibition information, essays on photography and new media in a dynamic and interactive online environment called Vasa Transmedia. We want to invite you to contribute essays, personal work, reviews, etc. to the Vasa blog and essentially become a part of the Vasa Transmedia community. If you are interested we would appreciate you linking your blog to the Transmedia blog and we ask that you add us to your blog roll as well. Essentially our goal is to bring photographers, writers and visual artists under one umbrella. We would also like you to consider doing a gallery talk about your work sometime in the future.You can check Transmedia Blog out at the link below. You can post a request to the blog to be a contributor and we will get back to you with submission details.

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    “Transmedia is a global networking project publishing the work of artists, theorists, critics and others on an international scale transcending traditional media categories. At a time when global networked communications are breaking down traditional concepts of space and time and moving beyond traditional forms of publication and networking, Transmedia, VASA’s Blogging Project, connects people to events and people to people. The Transmedia, blog will cover photography, video, sound, digital art and theory. Transmedia will focus on artists, writers and theorists from north, south, central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.”

    1. I have memories of visiting the Giant’s Causeway when I was small, in the summer rain and wind. I remember it being completely bleak and beautiful – and utterly deserted – maybe that’s a bit of false memory syndrome. Beautiful nonetheless.

    1. Thank you Lisa 🙂 I’m really glad that you find this interesting! I’m trying to keep any explanations as simple as possible, specifically for non-geologists to enjoy. I’m presuming that most geos know the story well enough to not need any explanations at all!

      1. Great shots and explanations for the layman. I love that you included the myth as well. Interesting how the myths never tell “how” this stuff comes to be, just “who” built it.
        I love how geology can simply and physically prove the ages that our Earth has seen.
        Thanks for sharing!

      2. Myths always capture people’s imagination so much more. I guess that’s why they last so long – well after the scientific explanation has been uncovered! Understanding Geology totally brings about a better appreciation for the scenery around me and gives me a whole new perspective of time! Thank you for visiting and commenting 🙂

  2. I was just there last week!! I had wanted to visit Ireland and N.I. for quite some time, and Giant’s Causeway was one of my top 3 things I wanted to see (we don’t have amazing things like that in Canada). 🙂 Thanks for the info and the fantastic photos!

    1. How brilliant! I hope that you enjoyed your visit there! I really enjoyed my trip, which was all of 1 week in total. I’d love to go back, there is so much to see and the Irish hospitality is awesome! Thanks for your visit and comment 🙂

    1. Hi! Yes, it was quite busy, but I have a horrid feeling that it gets much busier if the weather is sunnier – could be a bit of a trade off! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Yes – Understanding why scenery looks the way it does really enhances my appreciation and enjoyment of it.. It’s like knowing a little secret that not everyone is aware of 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. I visited the Giant’s Causeway about 7 years ago. From my point of view, the very best part of the day was the drive north from Belfast. The countryside was so beautiful, and the roads not crowded compared to the Southeast of England (where I live).

    1. We approached it from the Donegal side – so didn’t get quite so much coastline in on the drive – but it was beautiful nevertheless. I agree with you about the roads… nice and quiet – but when you get stuck behind a lorry…. 😉 Thank you for your visit and comment!

  4. Amazing photos! I hadn’t heard of this Causeway before. Now I want to plan a trip overseas to see it for myself. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you very much! I hope that you do get a chance to see it for yourself. Ireland and Northern Ireland are both great places to visit – and their hospitality is legendary 🙂

  5. Good post. I’m Northern Irish myself, 28, and i’ve only just been to the Giant’s Causeway for the first time myself- about 2 months ago. For such a small counrty I suppose I should be ashamed of myself, but I think people have a habit of avoiding the sights on their doorstep. For anyone thinking about going- the weather has been great the past few days and should stay the same all week. Make the most of it! And call into Bushmill’s Distillary for the quick tour (and free sample)- it’s pretty cheap and lots of tours each day. The Causeway Coast drive is something any lovers of scenary/geology should try to do also- it takes you on winding roads along the North Antrim coastline where you will see lots of other interesting rock formations and sights- the road passes through several natural stone arches and the beaches are impressive. Anyway, enough rambling.

    1. All rambling is welcome here! And thank you for the weather update – I should imagine that it would be beautiful to see in sunshine – but then again, the hoards that might descend would make it a little too busy for my personal preference! As for only making it to a tourist destination on your doorstep – I can think of a few things in Scotland I’ve never been to, that others would travel half the world to see! Thanks for the visit and your comment 🙂

  6. this world heritage site is marvelous. i’ve never heard of a natural wonder like this one before. tnx for sharing and congratulations! 🙂

    1. Hi Lisa and THANK YOU! – I’ve still got a ways to go to catch up with your record number of FP posts! – I have a sneaky suspicion that this is a direct result of having so many people visit my site on the back of being featured in your “Ultimate Themes” post… So once again, thank you 🙂

    1. Geology is the scientific study of rocks, Mythology is a collection of stories and legends passed down through time. I guess that stories were made up to satisfy the curious mind back in the day, before people were able to work things out and put a more scientific understanding to explain the world around us 🙂

    1. Thank you, Eva, for your visit and comment – I hope that you do get a chance to see it for yourself 🙂 It’s awesome!

  7. I’ve visted twice and plan to go again. The first time on a public transit bus from Donegal. Enroute I wondered, “how will I pass so much time at the Giant’s Causeway? In the end I ran to catch the bus.” The view from the cliff top is gorgeous. Thanks for collecting so much info and the beautiful photos.

    Catherine

    1. Hi Catherine – I totally agree with you about how easy it would be to lose track of time there! Unfortunately the weather was our alarm clock so we never got to check out the view from the cliff top. Giant’s Causeway is already on my “must-do-again” list! Thank you for your visit and kind comment 🙂

    1. I’m glad that you like the photos – I do hope that you get there one day! Thank you for your visit and comment 🙂

    1. Thank you bercton for your kind comment 🙂 – Fingal’s Cave is a great place…I was there 20 years ago (already!) and the weather was such that the boat couldn’t dock… I’d like to get back there some day soon!

  8. Thanks for such amazing pictures! I visited the Giant’s Causeway (and Bushmills, a 2-fer that day!) in 2002 and it was by far the most remarkable place I’ve ever been. Though, granted, I don’t see a lot of remarkable places!

    I still wish I had been less cowardly about shuffling around on the rocks, but I was scared I would slip and fall into the water. I visited in Feb. and it would have been a pretty chilly reception in the water.

    1. Hi Erin, Lucky you getting a 2-fer!! We didn’t actually stop at Bushmills, not being whiskey drinkers (shock, horror – and I call myself a Scot!!?) Guinness, however is a different story 😉
      It was also quite slippery underfoot the day we were there. A combination of the rocks having been worn so smooth by the constant footsteps with the millions of visitors over the years – and a fine drizzle to make them super slippy! I think the water would be pretty chilly mid-summer, let alone in February! Comfortable, sensible shoes are definitely order of the day!
      Thanks for your visit and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Thank you Trinity River – glad that you enjoyed the photos and the story! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Aaah 103 degrees…yes a wee drizzle would certainly help to cool things off! Do you get a chance to get back home often? I’m living in South Africa, and find that I need a good “Scottish break” more and more!
      Thank you for your visit and comment 🙂

  9. Brings back memories. I went to Giant’s Causeway about 10 years ago. Wonder if I’ll be blessed again someday to visit Ireland…

    Thanks for the pictures. Fabulous!

    1. Thank you atozmom for visiting and your kind comment – I sure hope that you do get a chance to re-visit Ireland again 🙂

  10. Thank you very much for sharing , Probably not something I would get to see otherwise so thank you for being my eyes and guide! Congrats on being Fp’d too!

  11. Normally I’m not into geology, but this was actually pretty interesting! I’ll have to visit here sometime. I believe you said it was in England…? Hopefully when I cross off ‘travel the world’ from my bucket list I’ll be able to visit this amazing place. Check out my blog to see more of my bucket list items and maybe someday you’ll see a post about visiting the Giant’s Causeway. 🙂

    1. Yeah – I know geology is not everyone’s cup of tea – so I am glad that I was able to explain it well enough for other people to understand!
      The Giant’s Causeway is actually in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK – but is actually on the same island as the Republic of Ireland.
      I’ll definitely check out your bucket list…looking forward to your account of Giant’s Causeway already! Thanks for your visit and comment 🙂

  12. This is one of the places I have on my list of places to go at some point or another. I’m not a world traveler, more like a weird traveler (used to work with Doctors without Borders, so been to all sorts of weird places, but they dont really do work in Ireland…). Loved your Photos.

    1. Wow! Working for Doctors without Borders must have taken you to some fantastic places! Geology can take you to some “off the grid” locations too – so I can sort of identify with the “weird” traveller aspect! Luckily, geology is all around us, on every island and every continent -just one of the reasons I chose to study it 😉 – Maybe you’ll get to visit Ireland one day, anyway!
      Thank you for your visit and comment

    1. It would be a great place for a weekend getaway – when you’re finished with walking around the Giant’s Causeway, you can go an quench your thirst at Bushmills! Thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂

  13. Nice photos and along with Scara Brae, one of my “must visit” places. We did go to Natural Bridge or Arch in Lamington National Park in QLD. Australia. That also has basalt formations alongside softer rock which has worn away over millions of years to form a hole and thence a bridge.

    http://u96.co.uk/mix/

    1. The Natural Bridge sounds amazing, now that would be quite something to see! I haven’t yet managed to get to Australia, but I do have a growing list of places to visit when I do get there – I’ll be adding the Lamington NP to the list! Thank you for your visit and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Thank you Dani for your kind words 🙂 It’s great to meet fellow bloggers/travellers/photographers! I’ll be sure to keep on going with photography and travels… it would be a difficult habit to break 🙂

    1. Thanks Arran, I’m glad that you found the post interesting! I hope that you do get the chance to visit it yourself – it truly is fantastic 🙂

  14. Great blog! I’m not a photographer but have also traveled a lot over the last 20 years and started going through all my old journals and photos and blogging about them. It has been a fabulous experience and brings the trips back to life for me again.

    1. Hi Thirdeyemom – yes, I have been reading your accounts of your trip to Iceland, and I have to say that if I wasn’t already completely sold on going there – you’d have convinced me to go! I think we have the same idea – my travels, although dare I say I haven’t roamed nearly so far around the world as you have, also started 20 years ago, once I left high school. I’m also indulging myself in a spot of nostalgia, but I never kept any journals whatsoever! Oops..! It does mean, however, it is like rediscovering somewhere with a brand new pair of eyes! Thank you for visiting and commenting 🙂

    1. That’s It!! Ok, I had to google that one to understand your comment, but I’m glad that I did! Thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂

      1. You figured it out! I tried to make a link in my comment. I apologise it didn’t work.

        This is a great post! Glad you enjoyed the Giant’s Causeway and found it inspiring. I’ve been there 3 times! The whole coast is beautiful.

  15. I visited the Giant’s Causeway on my honeymoon trip from Canada in 1998. We loved the food, Guinness, music, people, golf AND discovering the root of my maiden name in the “Irish Book of Names” at the library in Belfast. But the Causeway was a jaw-dropper! Your post explains it so well and the myth is entertaining. We walked down and back up, savouring the experience and the view. Thank you for this wonderfull reminder of a spectacular part of our trip.

    1. Hi Cheryl, I’m so glad that you also enjoyed your visit to the Causeway – the Irish are such fantastic hosts and really make you feel welcome! Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the post – Enjoy your memories! 🙂

  16. thank you so much for posting this and for the great photos, and congratulations for being freshly pressed.

  17. Wow! It’s amazing how it ended up looking like stones fitted together – I never would have been able to guess that that was caused by lava/volcanic activity!

    1. Hi Jordan – yes, it does look like an oversized jigsaw puzzle doesn’t it? Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment!

    1. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂 I am happy to bring this wonderful place to your attention 😉 glad you enjoyed it!

  18. The images are excellent, and the post too! If the Giant’s Causeway is anything like the Cliffs of Mohr, it probably is a much busier place when the sun is shining. I was there once, the day after a storm with a strong wind blowing in off the Atlantic and the skies still more than a bit cloudy. You couldn’t have told the difference from the parking lot, though, which was packed with cars and tour buses. Still, it was a sight I’ll never forget, nor will I forget Ireland and it’s wonderful people. Glad to hear you enjoyed the trip, and I hope you get a chance to go back and spend more time wandering the Irish scenery.

    1. I think you’d be right in assuming the crowds would be far more on a sunny day than on a cloudy one!
      I never made it to the Cliffs of Moher, only to Slieve League (which I incidentally posted about on Monday). It does sound very dramatic, and will definitely be on the list of places to visit if and when I next get the opportunity to visit Ireland. And you are right – the Irish are fantastic 🙂
      Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment!

  19. I just went here this past May. I wanted to get married at Giant’s Causeway but settled for a 10 year anniversary trip instead. Yes, a lot of tourists and a lot of rain but worth it! I loved the walk down the hill even.

    1. Getting married at Giant’s Causeway would have be quite an experience – but I guess that spending your 10th anniversary would have been equally wonderful! It is definitely a trip worth making, and the walk down hill was great… walking back up the hill… left me breathless in a different way 😉 Thanks for your visit and comment!

    1. Hi Jeff – I’ll be keeping a note of that cottage for any future visits…Thank you for the information. I can only imagine how cool that would be to stay so close to the Giant’s Causeway (and not have to pay ridiculous car parking charges 😉 ) Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  20. I first learned of this place about twenty years ago through a band and friends, called marillion that shot part of a video for a song called Easter there. Thanks for teaching me so much more about it! It’s definitely on my to do list and has been from the day Steve told me about it!

    1. Hi Peter – can’t say that Marillion was ever my cup of tea, but I can appreciate their choice of location for a video shoot! It’s a bit like the comment from Pyrit above – referring to the artwork for Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy!
      Hope that you get a chance to see it for yourself some day. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  21. wow… Thanks for the information…. never knew the volcanic eruption lead creation of such heritage site…..

    I guess geologist help you find answers to the hidden secrets of earth…. 🙂

    I wish I was one…..

    1. Yes – being a geologist does give you more insight to the natural world around us 🙂 If you have the interest in the subject, you don’t have to be a qualified geo to appreciate those hidden secrets, a little knowledge can go a long way! Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment!

    1. It would make a great weekend trip from somewhere around the UK, absolutely! Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  22. Wonderful to have both the science and mythology to go along with your great photographs. Excellent post, cheers!

    1. Hi Noel, I agree that having both sides of a story helps to capture people’s imagination more! Not everyone will appreciate the science of it, preferring the legend of yore and vice versa 🙂 Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment!

    1. Thank you veri – I’d love to post more frequently, I have so much that I would like to share! Unfortunately, time keeps escaping me – I think I need at least 30 hours in a day to do everything that I would like 🙂 In the meantime, I’ll be posting as and when I can.. sometimes more, sometimes less 😉 Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  23. Your photos are breath-taking! I especially loved the one of columnar joints. In India, some of the really old temples have almost identical looking columns in their roofs. It’s really strange to see the same shape and regularity happening as a result of natural phenomenon.
    I also enjoyed the mythology of it! What a fun story! Especially to see that while the two giants pitted their brawns, the giantess was really the one who saved the day, using her brains! :^)

    1. That is a wonderful thing, that old temple columns look like these basalt columns! How fantastic!
      Yes, the mythology is great fun – and you are so right – brains (and the lady) saved the day!! LOL!
      Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment!

    1. Thank you Rob – I hope that it wasn’t a bad school memory and more of a good school memory! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  24. Fascinating post – the Causeway is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit, going to have to make it happen one day! Congratulations on being freshly pressed.

    1. Thank you Matthew for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂 – you most definitely will have to make it happen some day, soon 😉

  25. I am in awe of the photos you’ve taken and places you’ve been. Sometimes I stand there with my camera and wish I could get a picture from some other vantage point than standing on the ground. I love the satellite views interspersed with your wide angle vistas. So many people forget that the vista starts from the feet forward, rather than from the horizon and beyond. And rock the formations you find, they’re cool too!

    1. I can relate – I always want to take a picture from an impossible angle (like I’d need to be suspended by a crane or something!) Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

  26. Loving Scotland, having lived in Ireland and being Swedish I have a great thing for folkloric myth like this.

    Not only does “low mythology” give clues to lost parts of “high mythology” (in this case pre Christian, religous mythology) and anthropological understanding of the people and culture in witch it is, it also furthers art and culture (Sweden has a host of 19th century fairy tales, paintings, songs and so on based on folklore).

    Thank you for posting this!

    1. Thanks for visiting and your comment, Marcel 🙂 Folklore, myths and legends are always wonderful to hear about – even though somethings can be explained by science and a greater understanding nowadays, the legends passed down through the generations are somehow more endearing!

  27. Nice piece! I love the Giants Causeway but get pretty nervous walking along the clifftop path with the kids. Such a sheer drop ;-/
    Great experience up round this beautiful coast, lovely scenery, Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge, the Bushmills Distillery (open to the public) and nice pubs to have a nice Irish pint/meal in!

    Defo worth a visit, I live about 2 hour’s away and regulary visit.
    Take care, Kaye ‘KeyStageTwo.com’ Northern Ireland.

    1. Hi Kaye – yes it is a wonderful part of the world, and so many places to stop and visit!
      I never walked along the cliff tops, but I can only imagine how worrying it would be when accompanying children, whether it be 1 or 20! I’m sure that I will some day get the opportunity to visit again and will make the point of walking along the cliff top, for sure 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

  28. Hi Lu,

    Fascinating stuff! We have legends of giants and giants building huge cyclopic structures (easter island, Machu Pichu etc..) plenty in earths history. What interests me is if there is actually any truth in those myths. For the modern man who is sceptical by nature it’s of course no more than an amusing story, however..maybe people will talk about our times too somewhere in a distant future.

    Thanks!

    Manu
    rancilio silvia

    1. Hi Manu, I like to think that most things in history, stories and legends alike come about to help people justify the existence of something or their surroundings. As our understanding of nature and the world around us grows through scientific research, we exchange the stories for the reality. It doesn’t mean that the stories are lost forever, but that we can still enjoy them for what they are, and meant in the past.
      I’d love to visit Easter Island and Machu Pichu – the ancient cultures would be amazing to learn about!
      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Hi Joshua – thank you so much for your visit and comment 🙂 I’m not so sure I would refer to my career as stunning – but it has been fun so far 🙂

    1. Thank you for your kind comment 🙂 I know that science is not for everyone and I did try to explain how this wonderful place came into being as simply as I possibly could! I’m so glad that you found it interesting!

    1. Hi Kat – thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂 I agree that this is a beautiful place indeed!

  29. Oh how I love this! So glad it was informational too! I’ll be going back to Ireland in September and this was on my list of places to see since I missed it the other times I was there. Thank you for this!!!

    1. Hi and thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂 I do hope that you have a fantastic time in Ireland this September – and you have some sunshine to enjoy it in 😉

  30. Great photos! I remember reading the Finn McCool story when I was a kid. Hope to travel as extensively as you someday 🙂

    1. Thank you Islandgirl 🙂 The story of Finn McCool is pretty, um well – cool! I hope that you do travel as much as you can and as much as you want to 🙂 Happy Travels!

  31. I live in ireland and can’t believe i never got the chance to visit! definitely will be doing it soon after looking at these photos , great job;)

    1. Thank you Vasare – There are so many wonderful places in Ireland that it doesn’t surprise me! – we only spent a week there and there were so many places that we had to leave off the list. I see that as a fantastic excuse to go back again 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  32. Hi Lu. You know more about the mythology of the giants than I do, which is saying something, given that I grew up in Portrush, 8 miles from the Causeway. But it was nice to read about the Causeway from a geologist’s point of view. I wonder if you know what Samuel Johnson’s view of the Causeway was: “Worth seeing, but not worth going to see.” That said I am happy to put a link to my blog Roots.

    1. Hi Cormac – truth be told, I had an idea of the story – but Googled it for a bit more information! I’m not sure I have heard of Samuel Johnson’s viewpoint – but it can’t be any worse than Bob Geldof’s quote on arriving in Timbuktu “Is that it?” 🙂
      Thanks for visiting, commenting and linking up with this post – I’ll pop over to check it out (hopefully) very soon!

  33. Beautiful images and very informative! I was there not so very long ago and have a few photos in my post titled Northern Ireland. Hoping to return again for additional sightseeing and a frosty Irish beverage… had hardly any time to explore on this last trip!

    1. Hi Heather – sounds like you had a pretty good time then, if frosties were involved 😉 I’ll hopefully get a chance to check out your Northern Ireland post at the weekend. In the meantime, thank you for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Hi Yappy – so glad that you enjoyed the post! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂 I’ll be returning a visit shortly 🙂

  34. Hi and thanks for the post on the Devil’s Causeway. In the Yakima area of Washington State (US) these basalt columns can be found. Also an area of extensive lava flows long ago, cliffs of them are everywhere. In the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California is another outcropping of columns called the “Devil’s Postpile” – that devil got around!

    1. Hi Russell, Yup sounds like the devil surely did get around! I wonder if the folks back in the day did have an understanding of volcanic activity – all hellfire and brimstone erupting from the bowels of the earth – and presumably hell – when they named all these places? Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. It’s not often you hear someone refer to rock formations as “cute” – so glad you like them 🙂 Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

    1. Hi bananabatman – I’m glad that you found it interesting enough to visit and leave a comment – thank you 🙂

  35. What stunning photos! And a wonderfully interesting write up too. The Giants Causeway is one place I’ve longed to visit; ever since I first saw pictures of it, years back. I hope I’ll get lucky enough one day. But while I’m waiting, this was a wonderful reminder. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Lakshhh for your kind comment 🙂 I hope that I you get the chance to visit it for yourself some day soon!

  36. What a wonderful and informative story and you even have lovely landscapes to go with it. I hope to go here and take photos one day myself. Those rocks fascinate me and I have no interest in geology :p

    1. Hi leadinglight – it’s still pretty cool that these rocks have grabbed your attention, whether or not you like geology! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the story and photos – I do hope that you get the opportunity to visit sometime for yourself 🙂 Thanks for the comment and for visiting!

  37. I thoroughly enjoyed the geology; however, not as much as the mythology. Stunning photo’s and great reading.
    Thanks
    Ray

    1. Thank you so much Ray for your visit and comment 🙂 I can appreciate that not everyone will enjoy the geology as much as the mythology – mythology is far more endearing – even though I can appreciate scenery more so because I do understand the geology! Each to their own, I say 🙂

  38. The base qualities of Geology and topography are often consigned to the pragmatics of mineral extraction, civil engineering and construction. These subjects are often considered dry or unappealing due to their typically challenging “artlessness” and their function as commodities.
    Superimposing or introducing a parallel narrative or linking a story or a person from history is a fascinating way of analysing the ground upon which we walk, and the ground upon which our forebears walked. The language we speak today is an amalgam inherited through situations where successive generations have been influenced by regime change, migration, diaspora and trade. This combining of story or tale with the very core of a sense of place is an exciting adventure for the enquiring mind and a valuable trove of possibilities for those who acknowledge the spatial alchemy and land consciousness that any native feels for his or her cultural identity. There are things that can be said in indigenious languages that describe the sacred connection between the self and the land.

    1. That, Sir, is exceedingly well put. Thank you so much for your visit and extremely eloquent comment. Yes rocks are mostly “artless” to the passer-by, but a geologist and perhaps the rock-climber too, will see so much more than just a “rock”… Stories do help to bring things to life – and capture the imagination of generations to come 🙂

  39. Please DO NOT call this a part of the United Kingdom. It is part of IRELAND and the UK has no right to call it theirs! As to your pictures and description: beautiful. I have been there a lot since Ireland is my favorite travel destination AND IN MY OPINION THE MOST AMAZING PLACE IN THE WORLD.

    1. I’m terribly sorry Jana, that you feel so strongly about this. I am well aware of the troubles Northern Ireland have had over the decades – and in fact centuries since King James VI (Scotland) / I (England) decided to settle Protestants on an otherwise Catholic island in the early 1600’s (I stand to be corrected). Unfortunately as the official maps would have it – it is a part of the United Kingdom, although it is geographically attached to the Republic of Ireland. I’m not in a position to shift politics or geography in this little blog and so feel duty bound to tell it how it is, whether or not it is an agreed situation 😦
      As for the scenery – it is stunning and I am glad that you enjoyed the post (apart from my positioning of this phenomenal site)
      Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts 🙂

  40. woow… I wanna rock hounding in this place, I am often see about it in the some geological handbook. The columnar joint in this place is the most ideal example for the structural extrusive igneous rocks

    1. Hi Ahmad – these basaltic columns are pretty awesome and a perfect example of their kind. I think that they are all the more amazing at the Giant’s Causeway, because of their coastal setting – it adds to all the drama 🙂 Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

    1. Hi Rich – thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂 It would seem that this site is on many a person’s bucket list!

  41. I’m just a plain-jane Stay at HOme Mommy…who is also a homeschooler. I’ve been fascinated by geology my whole life…

    I loved your article, and the pics were fabulous! Congratulations on becoming ‘Freshly Pressed”…

    Kirsty

    1. Hi Kirsty, geology can indeed be a fascinating subject – but sometimes I have to admit that getting into the nitty-gritty of the specifics can be downright boring! The fun stuff is explaining the world around us on a broad scale 🙂
      Homeschooling must be challenging and yet interesting at the same time. I always find that in trying to teach something is the best way of learning it for myself!
      Thank you so much for your kind comments 🙂

  42. I first heard of the Giant’s Causeway in a novel. This surprised me because I would have thought I would have heard of it by now (44 yo). But I told myself to research it online. Well, I didn’t think of it at the right times but stumbled upon your post. What a great introduction and explanation to such a fascinating subject!

    1. Hi Bartz – they say timing is everything, and I guess that I am lucky to have posted on this topic and have you come and visit 🙂 I’m glad that you find it interesting – and I’m sure that you will find out so much more than I have covered here in your research. Thanks very much for visiting and leaving a comment!

  43. I’ve never even heard of the Giant’s Causeway (which is remarkable because I dated a geologist for a couple years, and you people sure know how to talk about rocks :D) but after seeing your photos I’d love to go. Great shots–I love the way you worked with the symmetry and lines!

    1. Oh – we geos do love a good natter over rocks (and a couple of beers – let’s be honest!) Giant’s Causeway is a great place to visit – whether or not you even like rocks, just for it’s unique setting on a very dramatic and scenic coastline.
      Thank you so much for your kind comments 🙂

    1. Hi financialwords – yes it does look like it could be man-made, but perhaps these formations are something that inspired design instead! Looking at the columns from the top always reminds me of the paving stones you might use in your garden! Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  44. How glorious to see the Causeway Freshly Pressed. Great pictures and info. For anyone planning a visit to our beautiful little country, take time to drive all the way round the Antrim coast. It’s pretty special.

    1. Hi Sharon – it is wonderful to see how so many people have enjoyed reading this post and have hopefully had their imaginations captured by this amazing location! I would have loved to have spent so much more time in both N.Ireland and Ireland – and so I have already placed them on my “Got to go back to…” list!
      Thank you for visiting and commenting 🙂 – you have a special “beautiful little country” indeed!

  45. I’ve been dreaming of visiting the Giant’s Causeway ever since I was a teenager. Coincidentally, I was recently thinking of planning a trip to Northern Ireland next March, and behold, here’s what I see on WordPress.com’s freshly pressed! I’m now more convinced of doing that trip next year — it’s about time!
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great timing indeed Carlos! Thank you for your visit and kind comment 🙂 I do hope that now you have all you need to start your preparations for your trip to this fabulous corner of the world!

      1. So, this evening I’ll be landing at Dublin, ready to spend a few days in Northern Ireland. Finally, the Giant’s Causeway! I just hope the weather ends up being nice, as rainstorms are expected…
        I’ll probably write something about it on my blog later. 🙂

      2. The weather was excellent, and we spent the whole day trekking the Causeway Coast walk between Carrick-a-Rede and the Causeway itself! The views were amazing, and going from sea level up to 140m and vice versa every once in a while was challenging but fun. Now I want to go back. 🙂

      3. Hey Carlos – sounds like you had a fantastic time! I’m really pleased that you timed it well with the weather too 🙂
        Have you put anything up on your blog yet? If you have, please send me the link. I’d also love to go back. Virtually, for now, will have to do!

      4. We didn’t actually time it with the weather; we were just lucky! The weather forecast stated that we’d have rains all over the place for the whole week, but the day before our trek, it changed to partly cloudy on the afternoon. Turned out to be a clear sunny day from noon. 😀

        I still haven’t put anything on my blog. I’ve been a bit busy catching up with that tedious real life, and I’m about to spend a few days in Barcelona, so it might take a while. I write in Spanish, so unless you understand it, you’ll have to use a translation service, or just enjoy the pictures, though! 😉

  46. I love this 🙂 I was there just last summer, and it was utterly breathtaking. We did dare the rocks; we thought we were expert climbers, which was quickly proven false. But it was so beautiful all the same. Funny enough, the band Switchfoot must have thought it was a good day to sightsee as well, because we encountered them at the Causeway! Great memories!

    1. Well done you for even trying to climb these! I guess you’d have “free-climbed”? I’ve only ever done sport climbing – letting someone else set up all the bolts long beforehand. I can only imagine how many awesome routes there could be at the Giant’s Causeway… for now I might just settle for the odd bit of bouldering!
      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment – glad that you enjoyed your trip there too 🙂

  47. These pictures were so amazing I made my 9 & 6 year old boys look at them. . .we all marveled at the rock formations and especially the “organ” . Great post, entertaining & educational to ALL of us!!!!

    1. Thank you Lisa – What a cool Mum you are!! I’m always pleased when the younger generations find rocks interesting – and older generations – and all the other generations in between 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind comments!

  48. This was very informative. As a kid I lived in Europe for 2 and a half years and the one place I never was able to see was the U.K. I have always been fascinated by Great Britain; in college I did a term paper on Stone Henge and I even built a small model of it 🙂 One day I hope to see the sight you described so well in your blog. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Eva – writing a paper on Stonehenge must have been really interesting! I was fascinated with the place when I was a kid, and lived not too far from it at one point in my early life. I hope that you get to experience the magic of both Stonehenge and The Giant’s Causeway for yourself one day – they are so much more than can be described on paper/screen. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

    1. Hi Lynne – thank you so much! I think that the mythology is what most people enjoyed the most – and it is a great story! Thanks for visiting and commenting 🙂

    1. Thank you Camera Guy – I’m really happy just to bring this wonderful location to the attention of so many, the fact that you find the geology interesting is an added bonus for me 🙂 Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment!

  49. We just visited the Oregon coast and Columbia River Gorge. Very interesting basalt formations where lava flows reached the sea. They were much like these columns, only many of them spiraled. Is there a reason for the difference?

    1. Hi Thorsaurus – would you by any chance happen to have any photographs of these spiraling formations? If they look anything like the jumbled mess that is above “The Organ” in one of the photos above – the reason would be along the following lines: During the cooling process – the lava contracts or shrinks forming joints and in this case the polygonal shaped columns. However, they don’t solidify all that quickly – and if they are exposed to cold water – perhaps trickling down from a river system above, the “setting” process may have been affected – resulting in a jumbled mess of partially set columns – or in the case of Oregon – they’ve twisted.. I’ve just found a website which might help further: http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/Volcanoes/Washington/ColumbiaRiver/geo_history_gorge.html
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment 🙂 Don’t forget to let me know if you’ve got any photos!!

  50. Hi!
    I enjoyed this very much,. I am more of a photographer than a scientist, so was drinking up the images of this fabulous place. I hope to see this with my eyes one day!
    Greetings from France.

    Barbara

    1. Salut, Barbara! I’m glad that you enjoyed the photographs. I don’t really consider myself a photographer at all – but I certainly do enjoy photography! Hope you do get to visit it and see it for yourself – let me know if you do, I’d love to see your photos 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  51. amazing photos – thanks! I have photographs of my parents at the Giant’s Causeway (irish end!) when they were courting in the 1960s. It is a place I have always wanted to go and your phtoographs made me want to go all the more. The geological and mythological insights made it come alive.

    1. Hi Louise, I can only imagine how cool those 60’s photos would be – and apart from the fashions of the day being different – everything else would still look the same! Brilliant 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed the stories behind the setting – and I do hope that you, too, get to go and retrace your parents steps! Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

  52. Hey Lu! Nice Post. All I can say, it seems it just natures way of playing ‘LEGO’.
    And yes, liked the name of your blog. Cheers on being freshly pressed.

    Mandar

    1. Hi Mandar, Ooh! I never thought of Lego – but I ABSOLUTELY loved Lego as a kid… perhaps that’s why I loved this place so much – other than for the rocks! Thanks so much for your kind comments 🙂

  53. You have many comments, but your post and the photography are wonderful. Travel more, make more. Your comments were helpful. You brought the other side of the world to us.

    1. Hi Rubie – I have had so many comments that I can hardly believe it! The response to this post has been quite overwhelming – all that I hope is that many more people will get themselves to this little corner of the world and see it for themselves! I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and responding to every single comment that people have taken the trouble to leave here!
      You need not fear – I shall always travel and I’ll do my best to keep posting as often as I can – I’ve already got so much to catch up on, and I keep finding new places to write up about too… But I LOVE it 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  54. Since reading your post I have seen the causeway mentioned on two TV shows (uk from the air was one). Truly amazing. Thanks for the pics. I love learning new things:)

    1. Nice! Obviously the Causeway is causing a bit of a stir these days! Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment – I also love to learn about new things 🙂

  55. Hello
    I really enjoyed this post and the humour in your writing.
    Would you mind if I put a link to this post on my page about my self-catering cottage in Co Derry?

    1. Hi Granny 🙂 I’m more than happy for you to link up with this post – it would be an honour!
      Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment… maybe next time we are over in your wee corner – we’ll hire out your cottage!

  56. So I have to say, as a Geology major at University of Cincinnati and a world traveler as well, your blog really caught my eye. Your knack for interwinding personal experience with the science behind the formation was well done. It is just so incredible to me that there are so many little wonders around the world, that would just go unacknowledged without the little moments of pottluck such as this. You really did a great job with this. Hope ya have time to wander over and have a glance at my cite. I did post a silly research paper that maybe you would like to glance at. Mostly its just a phisophical collection point. But clearly blogs are a passion to some… Keep wandering.

    nic

    1. Hi Nic – thank you so much for your kind comment 🙂 I think what I have learned through all the fantastic responses to this post is that geology is not everyone’s thing – but in small doses it can be more readily digested. I don’t and won’t always be posting about geology as my other interests stray far away from the rocks! That being said – I’ll always keep in mind that the audience are not all Geology Majors, such as yourself, who would inherently have a good understanding of such processes. I’ll pop over and check out your blog in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime – Keep wandering and Happy Travels to you too 🙂

  57. I’m originally from NI and love going to the Giant’s Causeway every time I go home, so I enjoyed reading of your trip.. The extra info you gave on the geological side was interesting as I remembered some details vaguely from high school but had forgotten most of it! I do remember the story of the 2 giants fighting very well and have told that to several people.

    1. Yes – admittedly the story about the fighting giants is most likely to stick in people’s minds – and not the geology! Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment 🙂

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