The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast is a spectacular area of global geological importance on the sea coast at the edge of the Antrim plateau in Northern Ireland. The most characteristic and unique feature of the site is the exposure of some 40,000 large, regularly shaped polygonal columns of basalt in perfect horizontal sections, forming a pavement. This dramatic sight has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland. Celebrated in the arts and in science, it has been a visitor attraction for at least 300 years and has come to be regarded as a symbol for Northern Ireland.
The property’s accessible array of curious geological exposures and polygonal columnar formations formed around 60 million years ago make it a ‘classic locality’ for the study of basaltic volcanism. The features of the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast site and in particular the strata exposed in the cliff faces, have been key to shaping the understanding of the sequences of activity in the Earth’s geological history.
Criterion (vii): The cliff exposures of columnar and massive basalt at the edge of the Antrim Plateau present a spectacle of exceptional natural beauty. The extent of visible rock sections and the quality of the exposed columns in the cliff and on the Causeway combine to present an array of features of considerable significance.
Criterion (viii): The geological activity of the Tertiary era is clearly illustrated by the succession of the lava flows and interbasaltic beds which are in evidence on the Causeway Coast. Interpretation of the succession has allowed a detailed analysis of Tertiary events in the North Atlantic. The extremely regular columnar jointing of the Tholeiitic basalts is a spectacular feature which is displayed in exemplary fashion at the Giant’s Causeway. The Causeway itself is a unique formation and a superlative horizontal section through columnar basalt lavas.