Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway

In the northern part of Ireland lies a geographical feature that, for generations, has been lapped at and worn by the cold Atlantic Ocean. This is the Giant’s Causeway. This geological feature, thought to be formed some 60 million years ago, was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1986. Once thought in myth to be the result of an Irish and Scottish giant’s fight, the subsequent source of the site’s name, it was actually the result of intense volcanic activity. When the lava formed, it created a plateau that, when cooled, cracked and formed pillars resembling hexagonal shapes. Though at a glance the pillars look hexagonal, they vary and have anywhere from four to eight sides. The intensity of the volcanic activity can be imagined in the height of some of the structures, some rising to 39 feet (12 m) high. Though the National Trust owns the Giant’s Causeway, England’s leading conservation organization, much of the surrounding land is privately owned.