Fingal’s Cave - History and Facts | History Hit

Fingal’s Cave

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About Fingal’s Cave

Situated on the uninhabited island of Staffa on the Inner Hebrides, Fingal’s Cave is one of the best known caves in Scotland and one of the best examples of volcanic basalt columns in the world. Famous for its visually stunning geometric pattern, it looms 69 metres over the ocean and is a popular sightseeing destination.

History of Fingal’s Cave

Fingal’s Cave was created around 60 million years ago by the ancient lava flow that also created the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland, directly across the sea. Since both are made from the same basalt columns, legend has it that they were the end pieces of an epic road built by the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill so he could travel to Scotland where he could duel with Fingal, his rival.

The cave is formed entirely from hexagonal columns of basalt which are so uniform that they look man-made. The roof is naturally arched, and the echo created by the ocean waves are similar to harmonies created in a cathedral. They are so spectacular that they inspired Mendelssohn to compose his Hebrides Overture.

Fingal’s Cave today

Both Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott visited Fingal’s Cave, and today it is still possible to take a cruise boat to Staffa between April and September to visit the cave. In calm conditions, visitors can land on the island and walk some way into the cave.

Puffin spotting is also popular, as is walking and enjoying the views from the island which include the island of Iona.

Getting to Fingal’s Cave

Tours to Staffa depart from Iona or Fionnphort and last around 3 hours. It is also possible to book tours for puffin spotting and other destinations in the area.