Who discovered the Causeway?  The discovery of the causeway has widely been attributed to the Bishop of Derry (Londonderry) who visited there in 1692 and  subsequently brought word of its existence to the learned circles in Dublin and hence to the courts of London. A year later in 1694, a fellow of Trinity College, Sir Richard Bukeley,  presented  a paper to the Royal Society in Dublin which outlined this 'amazing' discovery and so started the debate on  how it was formed Also in 1694 and contributing in depth to this debate were the Reverend Dr. Samual Foley and  Dr.Thomas Molynuex.  At that time theories abounded about its formation, from it being created by men with tools to a natural occurrence or by the giant 'Finn MacCool'. While the Bishop may have brought knowledge of its existence to a wider world,  the first witnesses to this natural phenomenon would have been the hunter's and gatherer's who settled at Whitepark Bay after the last ice age (10,000 years ago), they would have travelled around the then densely forested  north coast by boats and  would have come across the causeway on their travels, perhaps from them that the enduring myth and legends of Finn MacCool arose.

Scientific facts -  The causeway  was formed during the early Tertiary period some 62 - 65 million years ago over a long period of igneous activity. Three lava  outflows occurred known as the Lower, Middle and Upper Basaltic. Lulls occurred between the outflows as is evident in the deep  inter-basaltic layer of reddish brown 'lithomarge' which is rich in clay, iron and aluminium oxides from weathering of the underlying basalt. The causeway area would have been situated in an equatorial  region at that time,  experiencing  hot and humid conditions. This came about due to the fact that the earth's crust is floating on moving plates known as 'tectonic plates', these move slowly but over millions of years they can  travel thousands of miles. The hexagonal columns of the causeway occur in the middle basalt layer, the same formations can be seen at Staffa  in Scotland (Fingal's Cave) and they also occurs in the the surrounding landscape of North Antrim and in fact many other parts of the world. 

The fascinating pattern that we see in the  causeway stones formed as a result of rock crystallization under conditions of accelerated cooling,  this usually occurs when  molten lava comes into immediate contact with water, as happens today in Hawaii, the resulting fast accelerated cooling  process causes cracking and results in what we see today at the causeway. For more information on volcanism please follow the link to the right where you will find references volcanic activities and their outcomes including 'column jointing' as occurs at the causeway.

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