Hailed as the eighth wonder of the world, the Giant’s Causeway on the north coast of Northern Ireland consists of a pathway of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. A famous legend explains its creation, but it really resulted from a volcanic eruption.
Legend goes that giant Finn McCool created a causeway from Ireland to Scotland to challenge rival Scottish giant Benandonner. When enormous Benandonner appeared, McCool’s wife Oonagh hatched a cunning plan. McCool pretended to be a big baby, leaving his rival terrified of how huge the father must be! Benandonner raced home along the causeway to Scotland.
The earliest account of the Causeway’s existence dates from 1693. Giant’s Causeway was created by intense volcanic activity 50–60 million years ago. Magma burst through cracks in Earth’s surface, flooding the landscape with layers of lava. Cracks formed as the lava cooled, resulting in thousands of regular columns of basalt.