The Giant’s Causeway and the National Trust – Pandering to Prejudice by Richard Kefford

The Loch Ness Monster – a prequel

You may have seen on the news that the National Trust is having to justify including the ‘young earth’ creationist view of the origin of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, in its display in the new visitor centre.

There are many myths associated with this spectacular sight of myriad hexagonal rock columns on the coast of Antrim. I thought I would put the record straight and tell you the real story of their origins, to save you from any confusion you may be feeling.

Firstly, Flynn M’Kool, the giant, did not exist and therefore could not have thrown rocks into the sea to make a causeway across to Scotland. That’s the end of that one. Next you will be telling me that you believe in the Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas and Evolution!

Secondly, it is obviously ridiculous that rocks melted and were thrown up from under the surface of the Earth some sixty million years ago. That was before my Grandad was born so clearly cannot be true. Have you ever tried melting a rock? Just get your cigarette lighter out and try it if you don’t believe me. Then, you may ask, who sandpapered them into their present hexagonal shape – Flynn M’Kool again? I’ve already told you that he never existed.

Thirdly the ‘young Earth’ creationists say that there was an underwater eruption a few years ago. The Earth is only 6,000 years old so it must have happened fairly recently. This is just as unlikely as the previous theory as again, the rocks would have to be melted so we are back to the cigarette lighter problem. This time it is even more difficult to believe, have you ever tried lighting a cigarette under water?

Now we have disposed of all those silly myths, I can tell you real story. My Grandad told me this so it must be true.

It all happened when he was just a young lad. People in Northern Ireland kept pandas as pets but they had to build fences to keep them safe in their back gardens or the dinosaurs would get in and eat them. ‘Dinosaurs were mostly herbivores,’ I hear you cry? Yes, I know, but Pandas don’t eat meat so they tasted like cabbage to the dinos.

You will probably know that pandas only eat bamboo. In fact they prefer the young growing shoots, or Panda Growth Tips as they are known to biologists.

My Grandad well remembers the year when there was a very cold winter, followed by a wet spring and cool summer. ( He can’t remember what he had for breakfast yesterday tho’.) This combination meant that the bamboo harvest failed and a panda famine loomed.

Pandas are resourceful bears so they used their sharp claws to climb the older plants in the bamboo forests of Counties Down and Antrim to get at the tender young branches at the top. Everyone thought they were climbing up to harvest the twigs but it turned out that they were just taking the pith. This saved the lives of about half of the pandas, who then survived through the following winter until the new growth started in the following spring.

As they slid back down the trunks, their sharp claws wore away the bamboo of the circular trunks, forming a hexagonal cross section.

You won’t see any pandas in Northern Ireland now as the bamboo forests were killed off by the climate change that we all know about. The pandas emigrated to China on a pandle steamer.

All that survives to this day are the fossilised trunks of the relict bamboo forest on the North Antrim coast with those peculiar unexplained, until now, hexagonal columns.

When you go to the National Trust visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway, I am quite happy for you to discuss this account with the National Trust ranger there. Ask him about the origins of the fossil forest you can see out of the window.

I’ll send this history to the NT and see if they agree to give it equal prominence with the nonsense they have displayed already – 60 million years, giants, melting rocks? Pah!

‘What happened to the dinosaurs?’ I hear you ask. They got very hungry because there were no pandas to eat so they all trooped across the Giant’s Causeway one moonlit night and found their way to Inverness where they learned to swim in Loch Ness. I think you know the rest.

So there you have it, the true story all laid out in black and white – just like the pandas. If you don’t believe it, just go and talk to my Grandad, but please don’t ask him about his breakfast.


Richard Kefford lives in Somerset, where he enjoys writing, wood turning, hill walking and practical geology. He was recently among ten prize winners of the writing competition ‘Shine’ with Pan Macmillan. Here is his winning entry.


Photograph courtesy of Glasscobra

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