Here There Be Giants

The picture above in the masthead is from the grounds at the Giant’s Causeway, taken during my 2003 visit. The photo is the same image I use as the background of my business card. I was in a bookstore recently and needed to provide the clerk my email address, so I pulled out my business card because it’s an easier way to avoid misspellings than verbally giving my address with the cumbersome “F as in foxtrot . . .”

She revealed that she had studied abroad in Scotland, and I asked her if she knew the myth of the Giant’s Causeway.

Finn MacCoul's Highway

Photo (cropped); Original by Paddy Patterson via Flickr Creative Commons

Sixty million years ago, in what is now County Antrim, Northern Ireland, basalt lava flowed and cooled. Today, over 40,000 mostly-hexagonal columns form this unique landscape. A large boot-shaped boulder is said to be a giant’s boot, perhaps the boot of Fionn MacCumhail (Finn MacCoul) which he lost while forming the underwater highway to Scotland to visit and taunt his Scottish rival. These basalt columns continue underneath the Irish Sea and re-emerge along the coast of Scotland at the Isle of Staffa.

Giant Boot

“Giant Boot” Photo by Valdiney Pimenta via Flickr Creative Commons

The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ‘exceptional natural beauty,’ its superlative rock formations and unique fauna, and its contribution to the history and study of geology. Photographs don’t do it justice. If you haven’t seen the Giant’s Causeway, plan your trip now.

Susanna Drury; 1740 gouache; 1768 engraving Public Domain via the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology

Susanna Drury; 1740 gouache; 1768 engraving
Public Domain via the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, and Technology

A brief informative video—with awesome images—from the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust.

For more information, visit the Giant’s Causeway & Causeway Coast World Heritage Site.

An animated version of the legend produced by the Giant’s Causeway National Trust.

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