Giants Causeway in County Antrim was discovered in 1992 by the Bishop of Londonderry. Since then, there have been many theories as to how the 40,000 plus basalt columns came into being.
The most interesting explanation is that an Irish warrior giant called Finn McCool built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his rival Benandonner. There a several versions of the legend. One is that Finn fell asleep before leaving for Scotland being tired from building the causeway. When Benandonner came looking for him Finns wife, Oonagh, covered him with a blanket and pretended he was her baby. On seeing the size of the baby, he assumed that the father must be huge and fled, ripping up the causeway to stop Finn from following him. Another version has Finn fleeing from Benandonner on seeing his size and getting his wife to disguise him as a baby.
The legend coincides with geological history in that there are similar basalt formations in Scotland at Fingal’s cave on the isle of Staffa.
However, the less interesting truth of what is often called the eighth wonder of the world, is that it was actually formed by a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago. The causeway would have been in an equatorial region at the time. Because the earth’s crust is made up of moving plates which move slowly over the years, places have shifted several thousand miles. The amazing pattern that the stones have formed is the result of rock crystallization brought on by accelerated cooling which happens when the molten lava comes in contact with water.
Have you visited the causeway? What are your favourite stories about its formation?