The stones of Ireland and a metaphysico-archaeological question for readers
The former is a celebrated collection of basalt columns formed 60 million years ago by volcanic activity and passed into legend as the walkway the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built to cross to Scotland and fight Benandonner. More recently it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only such in Northern Ireland. The stone circles date to the Bronze Age, about 3,600 years ago.
As weird as the causeway is, I found the stone circles more moving, as I almost always do with man-made ancient monuments. Why? Precisely because they are man-made. Giant's Causeway came along millions of years before the first humans, may well exist long after the last human has gone, and would have existed had humans never come along. That's a vaguely disquieting thought.
The Beaghmore circles, rows and cairns, on the other hand (and Stonehenge, Avebury, Newgrange and their Paleo-, Meso-, Neolithic and Bronze Age cousins), are visible evidence of humans expressing themselves and impressing themselves upon nature in ages when they may have had few other means of doing so. There's something touching and maybe even romantic about that. And the monuments' frequent settings on dramatic windswept plains help.
How about you, readers? What's your preference when it comes to wonders: natural, or man-made?
© Peter Rozovsky 2008