Staffa, from the Norse meaning 'Pillar Island'
- Easter to October
- From £17.50‐£95.00
1415 – 1745 (Sun, Mon, Wed, Fri)
also Tues and Thurs from Aug 4th
The Cave may be named after Finn MacCumhaill, later adapted to Fingal, who was an heroic Irish General charged with fending off the unwanted attentions of the Lochlannaich or Norsemen. Considering that the languages of Scotland and Ireland were the same for around three hundred years, it was natural that myths and cultural exchange would encourage the notion of Staffa and The Giants Causeway being joined undersea and the legends of giants, wondrous deeds and superstitious beliefs would move on apace. So the notion that Staffa was thrown down by a giant as a stepping stone to Ireland could, after a few hundred years, be easily swallowed by the populace of the time. That Hell lay directly under Fingal’s Cave was another belief of the era.
It has been suggested that one other possible derivation of the name Fingal’s Cave – in Gaelic – Uamh Fionn, might have been Uamh Bhinn, meaning the sweet sounding or melodious cave. Since Gaelic was the language in use in the area for many hundreds of years, this is a distinct possibility.
Whole books have been written around the geological formations of the area but the simplest explanation for the formation of the unique forms of columnar basalt is related to the rate of cooling of a homogeneous lava flow. The least space which must be left by a liquid material contracting as it solidifies tends to form the least number of adjoining sides, generally forming hexagons. In practice, while there are many hexagons, the columns vary from three to many more sides and in size from a few centimetres up to nearly two metres across in some areas. Many have difficulty believing that this intriguing rock formation is not man-made.
A colony of puffins nests on Staffa and visitors can enjoy relatively close quarters communing with these comical little birds during the breeding season from late April to early August.