8 Facts, People & Quirks: The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Credit to Gareth Wray
Credit: Gareth Wray

Facts & Figures

  1. 50-60,000,000 – years ago that volcanic activity created these step-like hexagonal columns on the Antrim coast
  1. 400,000 – number of interlocking basalt columns that make up the Giant’s Causeway
  1. 12 metres/39 feet – the height of the tallest columns
  1. 788,000 – number of visitors in 2014
  1. 1 – ranking as most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland
  1. 1986 – year The Giant’s Causeway was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site
  1. £18,500,000 – cost of the new eco-friendly, grass-roofed, water-recycling Visitor Centre
  2. 8(th) – Wonder of the World that it’s been called


Legend says that Irish giant Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) created the causeway to travel to Scotland and fight his rival Benandonner, but came back smartish when he saw how big he was. His solution was to dress up as his own “baby” son, and when Benandonner figured out how big his “Da” must be, he ran back ripping up the causeway as he went…

Asked by his biographer if it was worth seeing, noted 18th century author, lexicographer and poet Dr. Samuel Johnson replied: “Worth seeing, yes; but not worth going to see.” This was before the Visitor Centre opened…


The Giant’s Causeway has inspired played a role in music and films too: it featured on the cover of “House of the Holy”, the 1973 album by Led Zeppelin. The design features a number of strange alien-like children (and was said to be inspired by an Arthur C. Clarke science fiction novel).

In 2011 comedy Your Highness, idiotic prince Thadeous (Danny McBride), his heroic brother Fabious (James Franco) and sexy Belladonna (Natalie Portman) journey across the Giant’s Causeway during their quest, and according to the 2008 film Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, the Angel of Death and his deadly army are hidden deep underground here. “Game of Thrones” has filmed all over Northern Ireland – including here – too, and even behind the camera, red hot German-Irish actor Michael Fassbender’s production company is called Finn McCool Films.

 Visiting here you might see the Organ, Shepherd’s Steps, Honeycomb, Chimney Stacks, Camel’s Hump and the Giant’s Boot, Harp and Gate: they’ve all been carved out of the rocks by millions of years of weather and erosion.

Article written by James Bartlett.

For more information about the Giant’s Causeway, visit the National Trust Website


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