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Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is a spectacular coastal landscape feature comprising approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. It is located in County Antrim on the North Atlantic coastline of Northern Ireland.

The landscape is the result of ancient volcanic activity and, set amongst dramatic cliffs, the basalt columns have inspired artists, interested scientists and attracted  large numbers of tourists for many years. The majority of the columns have a hexagonal cross-section, although some have fewer  and some more than six sides to them. The tallest columns  are about 12m high. Their tops can be walked on (with care), taking the visitor all of the way from the base of the cliffs down to the sea (where they continue). Forming part of the same ancient lava flow, across the sea in Scotland, there are identically formed basalt columns on the Isle of Staffa (of Fingal's Cave fame). It is possible that the existence of these basalt columns either side of the water gave rise to a legendary story which tells of the basalt columns being the remains of a causeway built by an Irish giant (hence the site's name), Finn MacCool. In the legend, he throws chunks of the Antrim coast into the sea to form a path in order to accept a challenge from the Scottish giant Benandonner to a fight.

Today, there is a modern award winning visitors centre to greet the tourists; it replaced an older one which accidentally burned down.  Much of the Giant's Causeway is owned and managed by the National Trust; the rest being owned privately and by the Crown Estate. The site is a National Nature Reserve and since 1986, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Further information from the National Trust may be found Here.

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