The Giant’s Causeway, County of Antrim

View of the Giant’s Causeway, towering above the sea. The cliffs emerge from the right-hand side of the image and stretches along the whole background, with the sea before it. In the foreground, two figures are facing the cliffs, one standing on the rocks and one sitting, holding what looks like a large notebook or sheet. Further in the distance, tree figures are on the shore, and other three on a boat on the water nearby. Further back, an isolated figure stands on the section of the Causeway immediately below the cliffs.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – Geo. Petrie del. / Geo Cooke fc.
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – The Giant's Causeway, County of Antrim. / Publishe by Baldwin Cradock & Joy: 1823.

Image Details

Genre Landscape
Technique Wood engravings
Subject(s) Marines, Nature
Geographical Location
  • Giant's Causeway - Named locality
  • Antrim - County
  • Ulster - Province
Keywords(s) Rock formations
Colour Monochrome
Dimensions 8 cm x 11.6 cm
Published / created 1823

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account Notes of a journey in the north of Ireland, in the summer of 1827
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. title page
Source copy National Library of Ireland J 91411
Alternative source

This is a link to a digital copy hosted by an external website.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

The road to the Causeway is down a steep circuitous path, which was made at a considerable expense by the late Earl of Bristol, Bishop of Londonderry. It is impossible to imagine a greater treat for an enquiring mind—for one really interested in nature's handy-works, than to find itself contemplating this stupendous curiosity, in the sober certainty of being awake. "It is not," says the Rev. Mr. Wright, “the magnitude of the Causeway which surprises, nor the distant view which commands atten- // tion; the wonder and admiration of the tourist are to be reserved until he steps upon the very surface of this great work of nature, when the expectation of the most experienced traveller will be fully realized. "The Causeway consists of three piers or moles, projecting from the base of a stratified cliff, about four hundred feet in height. The principal mole is visible for about three hundred yards in extent at low water, the others not more than half that distance. It is composed of polygonal pillars of dark-coloured basalt, so closely united, that it is difficult to // insert more than a knife-blade between them. Towards the centre of the whole mass the pillars ascend; and from the peculiar appearance of the surface, this vertex is usually called the Honeycomb. The pillars are irregular prisms of an uncertain number of sides, varying from three to nine; but the hexagonal form generally prevails. "Each pillar is in itself a distinct piece of workmanship; it is separable from all the adjacent columns, and then is itself separable into, distinct joints, whose articulation is as perfect as human exertion could have formed them, the extremities of each joint being concave or convex, which is determined by the terminations of the joints with which it was united; but there is no regularity as to the upper or lower extremity being concave or convex; the only law on this point is, that the contiguous joints are the one concave the other convex. In order to ensure stability to this piece of architecture, the angles of the inferior joints frequently overlap those of the superior so finely, that the force required to dislocate them sometimes fractures the joints. // "Though the polygons are all irregular, yet the contiguous sides of the adjacent pillars are equal, so that the contact of the columns is complete; and there is not the smallest aperture left over the whole arena of basaltic pavement. So close is the flooring of this natural quay, that whenever any subsidence of the surface has occurred, water will be found to lodge, and remain a length of time. And this suggests also a curious circumstance, to which the attention of the visitor will be called, upon his arrival at the Causeway; that, although the union of the columns has been just represented as impervious to a lodgment of water, yet on the west side of the Causeway is seen a spring of water bubbling up between the interstices of the columns. This is called the Giant's Well, and the water found in it is extremely pure. It may be observed also, that the pillars, between which the water issues, are not the least worn, nor are their angles less accurate than those of any pillar in the Causeway." Dr. Hamilton observes," whatever the process // was by which nature produced that beautiful and curious arrangement of pillars so conspicuous about the Giant's Causeway; the cause, far from being limited to that spot alone, appears to have extended through a large tract of country, in every direction, insomuch that many of the common quarries, for several miles around, seem to be only abortive attempts towards the production of a Giant's Causeway. "From want of attention to this circumstance, a vast deal of time and labour have been idly spent in minute examinations of the Causeway itself:—in tracing its course under the ocean — pursuing its columns into the ground—determining its length and breadth, and the number of its pillars—with numerous wild conjectures concerning its original; all of which cease to be of any importance, when this spot is considered only as a small corner of an immense basalt quarry, extending widely over all the neighbouring land. [pp. 76-80]
The Giant’s Causeway, County of Antrim