National Trust recruiting for kids council

A group of advisors – made up entirely of children- is being recruited by the National Trust to provide advice on how to get more of the nation’s children outdoors.

The idea follows the charity’s recent Natural Childhood Report and 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ campaign, and shows the Trust stepping up its game in encouraging children to explore the outdoors and get closer to nature.

The National Trust is looking to sign up ten children aged between seven and twelve to the council [1] where they will play an important role in developing the charity’s outdoor campaigns, and making their properties more fun for younger visitors.

The perfect candidate will be brimming with enthusiasm and fun, plus have a natural love for the outdoors and fresh air. Potential applicants are also required to have an adventurous spirit and a wild imagination. A fondness for rolling down hills or jumping in muddy puddles would be considered a bonus.

To offer children a chance to try out the National Trust and get inspiration on what they would like to change if they were appointed to the Kid’s Council, the Trust will open up its doors to children for free for the whole month of August. Over 200 places will be free of charge to children [2], giving them the opportunity to explore National Trust places across the country.

The successful council applicants will be announced later in the year and will be offered free year long access to National Trust places for themselves and their family. Canoeing, surfing and camping will be part of the winning prize to ensure kids and their families experience the full National Trust offering. The Kids’ Council will meet throughout 2013 and report their findings into the National Trust’s Visitor Experience Director, so their suggestions can be put into practise to help make the outdoors more fun for the nation’s kids.

The application process will close on 7th September 2012. Applications can be downloaded from the website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kidscouncil and sent back via email, post or handed in at National Trust properties [3]

Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, comments:

“We are really committed to helping kids enjoy the great outdoors and we want to make our places the most fun and family-friendly day out destinations in the UK. I’m really excited that our new Kids’ Council will help us do just that. Our kids go free promotion for the entire month of August will not only give kids and their families the chance to get out and explore, but hopefully inspire them to apply for our Kids’ Council and let us know what we can do better in the future.”

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For more information or interviews please contact the National Trust press office at Mischief on 020 3128 6600 or nationaltrust@mischiefpr.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

[1] Applications can be downloaded from the website at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kidscouncil and sent back via email, post or handed in at National Trust properties.

About the Kids Go Free Promotion:

The National Trust is holding a Kids Go Free Promotion throughout the month of August. There will be a number of excluded properties, which will be detailed at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/augkidsfree  To enter a property all you need to do is show your Kids Go Free voucher which can be downloaded from the website.

[2] a maximum of 2 children ( aged between 5 – 16yrs) can visit free of charge when accompanied by a paying adult

About the Kids’ Council:

For more information and to download an application form visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kidscouncil

Completed forms can be:

-         posted to 50 Things, National Trust, Heelis, Kemble Drive, Swindon, SN22NA

-         emailed to 50things@nationaltrust.org.uk

-          [3] handed in at a property participating in the Kids Go Free offer

Terms and conditions apply. See webpage for details.

About National Trust:

The National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 710 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information and ideas for great value family days out go to: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Stuck for ideas on what to do with the family this summer? The nationwide ’50 Things’ campaign to help get children outdoors and closer to nature, which has seized the public’s imagination, now appears in a practical and handy book. Packed with things to do in the outdoors, the book will get you and your family off the sofa and parachute everyone into a whirl of activity in the fresh air. National Trust price £4.99 (RRP £5.99) Available 21 July. http://shop.nationaltrust.org.uk/fiftythings

National Trust supports Play England’s Playday
Playday is the national day for play in the UK, a celebration of children’s right to play and a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives. Playday 2012 is on 1 August and the campaign theme is Get out and play! The Get out and play! campaign is calling on everyone to help make sure that children and young people across the UK have the time, space and opportunity to play outdoors.

Join in the fun at www.playday.org.uk

Playday is coordinated by Play England, Play Wales, play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland.

Behind The Scenes at Box Hill – Part 3

The barriers are coming down, the Donkey Green is quiet and there’s a medal in the bag for Team GB. For Box Hill, the Olympics are over and a happy but knackered bunch of people are making their way home.

The short sharp downpours didn’t seem to dampen spirits and the job of fully reopening Box Hill to the public is already underway. A full ecological site survey will be carried out next week but all the early signs are that the site’s precious wildlife has survived unscathed. One of the National Trust volunteer team has just told me that in her area of the site, a common lizard got almost as many cameras clicking as Lizzie Armisted and Emma Pooley. In another spot, a basking slow-worm was completely un-phased by the crowds while a pyramid orchid growing in the middle of a spectator area survived unharmed because everyone chose to carefully walk around it.

The volunteers have of course done tremendous work in keeping people informed and keeping an eye on our precious grassland but the real un-sung heroes of the weekend are the catering staff. This dedicated team chose to spend two nights in sleeping bags on the floor of the visitor centre so they’d be on-hand to serve early morning tea and brekkie for the army of Locog staff, the police, air force security and of course the rest of us working for the NT.

I don’t think they got much actual sleep the night before the men’s race though. When I stuck my head round the door it was as giggly as a girlie slumber-party (even though they aren’t all girls….) The next day they were on their feet from five in the morning handing out literally thousands of sandwiches, cuppas and cakes. At the end of the day when the crowds had gone and I was ready to crash out with exhaustion, the kitchen team decided to start playing rounders on the lawn. And then they did it all again the next day.

So to  Suzanne, Andrea and all the rest of the team – I salute you. You know how to work hard, how to play hard, and how to bake a damn good flapjack.

For video highlights of Box Hill during the women’s race go to ttp://youtu.be/gbPphXa38Bk and for all the latest Twitter updates on Box Hill follow @AndyBoxHill

Box Hill Behind-the-scenes Part 2

A fan enjoys the atmosphere at Box Hill

After two years planning, it’s finally here. The men’s Olympic cycle road race is at Box Hill, and so are the crowds. This normally relaxing green haven is heaving with a multi-coloured heaving mass of lycra-wrapped excitement  – and we love it. It’s quite overwhelming to be surrounded by so many happy people, it feels a bit like throwing your home open to all-comers; nerve wracking but exhilarating.

Of course a lot of people have been asking us how we can possibly allow so many people to trample all over one of the most sensitive and heavily protective nature areas in southern England. Well the answer is, it wasn’t easy. Today’s scenes of happy crowds lining the route are only possible because of months of meticulous planning. Over the last year, Box Hill has been surveyed literally metre by metre to get an incredibly accurate picture of what wildlife lives in what areas. A carefully planned series of segregated zones have been created to make sure people are only walking in the areas where it won’t do any damage. If you want to know where the rarest and most fragile plants and insects live, just look for the bits of the route which aren’t lined by crowds.

There’s always a small element of risk in inviting so many people into this delicately balanced environment but that’s something  act the National Trust has to deal with every day. One of our core aims is to open up beautiful places to as many people as possible. The crowds who are visiting today might not know anything at all about Box Hill’s rich array of flora and fauna. They might not have heard of Adonis blues or dormice or kidney vetch and frankly they might not care – but if even a small number of them remember the wonderful time they’ve had today in this beautiful place, and they come back again to enjoy it another time, then our years of effort have been worth it.

Right – I’m just off back to the track side to catch the last lap – come on team GB!

For a taste of the atmosphere, watch our video below:

Behind the Scenes at Box Hill

Wow, what a time we’re having at Box Hill and the big event doesn’t even kick off until tomorrow!

In case you’ve spent the last few months in living in retreat in Tibet, I should explain that one of the first big events of the 2012 Olympics – Britain’s new favourite sport  Road Cycling – comes to the National Trust’s very own Box Hill this weekend.

On Saturday the men’s teams – including Team GB poster boys Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins fresh from his Tour De France victory –  will complete nine ascents of the cruelly steep Zig Zag road. A day later the women will tackle the hill twice.

And yesterday, with comparatively little fuss and bother, the world’s best cyclists came to Box Hill to do a few practise laps. Some chose to ride in tightly-knit team groups (yes, we’re looking at you Switzerland). While others rode solo or mingled freely with their international rivals, men and women riding together sharing a laugh and a joke. One of the Costa Ricans even stopped for a chat with a friend he’d spotted at the roadside.

The pace was relaxed by Olympian standards (though still about twenty times faster than I could manage it – assuming I even made it past the first steep ascent) and of course all of team GB were there, looking confident on their home turf. You can see highlights here:

Box Hill has been a long time preparing for this event and it’s no secret that we’ve faced a few challenges on the way. It’s no easy task turning an incredibly sensitive and fragile wildlife habitat into a major international sporting venue – and back again – but fingers crossed we’ve just about managed to pull it off. The rangers have been working round the clock with Locog to make sure the event runs like clockwork; the volunteers who help to look after the hill all year round have been briefed, and even the catering team have been pumping-up their tea-pouring arms ready to serve around 15,000 cuppas.

Under cover of darkness, internationally renowned landscape artist Richard Long paid a visit to the hill and made his mark –  a mark which should be visible to millions of people around the world during Saturday’s race. Today Box Hill is looking beautiful in the sunshine, the grassland habitat is flourishing and even the butterflies are starting to flutter after a damp and soggy start to the year. We’re ready to welcome the world.

If you want to keep in touch with the latest information on Box Hill, follow countryside manager Andrew Wright on Twitter @AndyBoxHill.

White Cliffs appeal making waves in bid to break £1 million

A Shakespearean actress, soul singing sensation, a world beating sailor and a passionate seafood champion have thrown their weight behind the National Trust’s biggest ever coastal appeal to acquire a stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Dame Judi Dench, Joss Stone, Ben Ainslie and Rick Stein have joined thousands of people that have already supported the Trusts bid to raise £1.2 million to buy 1.35km of this much loved Kent coast.

Soul singer Joss Stone, who was born in Dover, said: “I love Dover and the White Cliffs.  They mean so much to me and I hope that the National Trust raises enough money to buy the land for future generations to enjoy.”

The appeal was launched in late June to acquire this ‘missing link’ between the land that the Trust already cares for and enable it to be managed for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “In just one month, thousands of people have backed our appeal and we’ve raised almost half of the money needed. 

“This tremendous support shows the love we as a nation have for our special places – thank you to everyone who has contributed.  We now need to keep going to make sure we reach the target and secure this piece of coastline for ever”.

Other high-profile figures that have given their support to the Trust’s campaign include actor Richard E. Grant, actor and TV presenter Tony Robinson, Comedian, presenter and Kent resident Paul O’Grady, Kent born and world famous fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, iconic singer from the 1940s Dame Vera Lynn, round the world yachtswomen Dame Ellen MacArthur and BBC Coast presenters Neil Oliver and Miranda Krestovnikoff.

Comedian and presenter Paul O’Grady said: “For the past 14 years Kent has been my home and I’ve come to really love the peace and quiet of the Kent countryside. It’s where I can relax and have some downtime. When the sun is shining and I’m out walking with the dogs it’s just fab – it feels like I’m on a permanent holiday.

“The White Cliffs are Kent’s most famous and stunning landscape and have a very special place in many of our hearts. I’m backing the National Trust appeal so that they will be secure forever, for all of us – I urge everyone out there to do the same.”

Standing proud at over 110 metres (taller than Big Ben or the same height as twenty-five London buses stacked on top of each other), the White Cliffs of Dover have witnessed many dramatic moments in England’s history [1].

These include the arrival of the Romans and the welcome return of British armed forces after the evacuation of Dunkirk during the second-world war. 

The cliffs are also home to a rich array of rich wildlife including the Adonis blue butterfly, rare coastal plants such as oxtongue broomrape and sea carrot, and birds including skylark, the only colony of Kittiwakes in Kent and peregrine falcons [2].

Hundreds of thousands of people come to visit the dramatic chalk cliffs every year with their wonderful views across the English Channel.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the National Trust looks after more than 720 miles of coastline. The Trust acquired its first stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover in 1968 as part of its Neptune Coastline Campaign. 

There are three easy ways that money can be donated to the appeal:

  • Make a donation online at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/whitecliffsappeal and you can choose to have your name engraved on our virtual White Cliffs of Dover.
  • You can text a donation to support the appeal.  For example, if you wanted to

donate £5 you’d need to text ‘DOVR02 £5’ to ‘70070’. The amount that you wish to donate must be included in the text.

  • Make a donation over the phone by calling 0844 800 1895.

The Twitter hashtag #whitecliffs will be used on twitter to keep people updated about the progress of the appeal.

The money needs to be raised by the end of the year to successfully buy the land and every donation can help take a stride forward to raising the amount needed.

[1] An article by the historian and broadcaster Dan Snow, which first appeared in The Times on Wednesday 27 June, can be found here: http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/lets-all-take-over-the-white-cliffs-of-dover-dan-snow

[2] For an article about the wildlife value of the White Cliffs of Dover visit: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jul/06/white-cliffs-dover-hidden-natural-gem?INTCMP=SRCH

List of all of the quotes from supporters of the White Cliffs of Dover appeal:

- Joss Stone, said: “I love Dover and the White Cliffs.  They mean so much to me and I hope that the National Trust raises enough money to buy the land for future generations to enjoy.”

- Dame Judi Dench, said: “Whenever I see the white cliffs of Dover, I think of the Matthew Arnold poem ‘DoverBeach':  the cliffs of England stand Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay”

- Dame Vera Lynn, said: “I thoroughly endorse the National Trust in it’s appeal to buy the ‘missing’ piece of The White Cliffs, so that they are saved in their entirety.   The sight of them meant so much to returning service men during the Wars, and they continue to be a huge part of the history of this Island, as they always have been.”

- Paul O’Grady, said: “For the past 14 years Kent has been my home and I’ve come to really love the peace and quiet of the Kent countryside. It’s where I can relax and have some downtime. When the sun is shining and I’m out walking with the dogs it’s just fab – it feels like I’m on a permanent holiday! The White Cliffs are Kent’s most famous and stunning landscape and have a very special place in many of our hearts. I’m backing the National Trust appeal so that they will be safe forever, for all of us – I urge everyone out there to do the same.”

- Tony Robinson, said: “The old lighthouse where Marconi experimented with his radio transmissions, the deep vertical channel cut when the locals hauled up a cargo of wrecked pianos in 1910, the one hundred thousand tons of brilliant white debris which slipped into the sea in 2012, the horizontal line of flint that must have provided the raw materials for a thousand stone-age tools; the White Cliffs are a palimpsest of human history.  Who knows, maybe once this 1.3 kilometre stretch has been saved for the nation, the blue birds may even start nesting there again!”

- Rick Stein, said: ‘Preserving our coastline from development so that we all can enjoy the pleasure of wild and empty cliffs and bays is one of the most precious things that the National Trust does, particularly as in this case, when it’s preserving those glorious white cliffs of Dover.’

- Neil Oliver, said: “The White Cliffs of Dover are to England, as Glencoe or the Buachaille Etive Mor are to Scotland, or the Great Orme to Wales, or the Giant’s Causeway to Northern Ireland.  They are part of all the grandeur that reminds us why we love our countries – and we must be constantly vigilant about the well being of such locations.   They don’t belong to any of us.  We are just passing through.  Any efforts to preserve the White Cliffs, so that present and future generations can benefit from access to them, have to be supported by anyone and everyone who cares about the natural environment.”

- Miranda Krestovnikoff, said: “We have a national love affair with the coast and the White Cliffs capture this special relationship perfectly.  Its so important for these places to be protected for everyone to enjoy; that’s why I’m supporting the National Trust’s appeal to acquire this missing piece of the White Cliffs of Dover.”

- Zandra Rhodes, said: “The experience of seeing the white cliffs of Dover is one of the most marvellous in the world, and walking in the chalk grassland above the cliffs is equally fabulous!  We must never lose this heritage!”

Statement on landslip at Burton Bradstock

A National Trust spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with all those involved in this tragic accident. Coastlines are dynamic and changing environments and it is impossible to predict when these kinds of events might occur. National Trust land at Burton Bradstock will remain closed whilst we assist the emergency services in whatever way we can.”

Ends

Giant’s Causeway visitor centre interpretation statement

The National Trust has welcomed over 25,000 visitors through the new Giant’s Causeway visitor centre since we opened its doors at the beginning of July.

We have been delighted with the positive feedback we have seen and heard from our visitors.

However, one small part of the visitor centre’s interpretive display has caused mixed reactions, mainly from people reacting to media coverage and online discussions.

The display in question focuses on the role that the Giant’s Causeway has played in the historical debate about how the earth’s rocks were formed.

Our intention in this section was to provide visitors with a flavour of the wide range of opinions and views that have been put forward over the years.

Our intention was not to promote or legitimise any of these opinions or views.

Unfortunately, elements from this part of the display appear to have been taken out of context and misinterpreted by some.

A spokesman said: “Having listened to our members’ comments and concerns, we feel that clarity is needed.

“There is clearly no scientific debate about the age of the earth or how the Causeway stones were formed.

“The National Trust does not endorse or promote any other view.

“Our exhibits, literature and audio guides for visits to the Causeway stones and this renowned World Heritage Site all reflect this.

“To ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur, we have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.”

Our focus at the Giant’s Causeway is to ensure that the 700,000 or so visitors we expect to welcome in the coming year will have a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and rewarding visit.  During this summer we have extended opening times from 9a.m. to 9p.m. See www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway/  for details of opening times, pre booking arrangements and specials deals for those who arrive by green transport.

>>update Wednesday 3 October: Review now completed, see details here>>

Time for slugging it out

Last year was a difficult year for much of our wildlife, especially winged insects which struggle in wet summers.  It set 2012 up poorly.

This year, a dry winter and sunny March ushered in widespread hose pipe bans – the only effective rain dance yet devised by mankind.  Sure enough, we endured the wettest April to June period on record, and the first half of July has been equally dire.  A nine day hot spell in late May brought some respite.

The bird-nesting season has at best been poor, though individual birds live long enough to be able to miss the odd breeding season.  On the Farne Islands, many puffin burrows have been drowned, and nests of other sea birds have been swept off cliffs.  At Strangford Lough, in Northern Ireland, arctic, common and sandwich terns may fail to raise any young this year.  On swollen rivers, nests of moorhens and swans have been swept away, and kingfisher and sand martin holes flooded.

It hasn’t been much better for our garden birds, with parents abandoning nests due to bad weather or failing to find enough food for nestlings.  Bats and insect-feeding birds have been particularly badly affected, due to shortages of caterpillars and winged insects.

Butterflies, bees, hoverflies and other beautiful or beneficial insects have all been scarce.  Small isolated colonies of such weather-sensitive insects are likely to die out this year, and recolonisation may take one or two good summers.  Few insects are visiting the garden buddleia bushes at present.

There are always winners and losers though, and this summer the main winners seem to be slugs, and nettles, and surprising, some of the orchids.  It has been a particularly good summer for the exquisite bee orchid.  Plagues of midges and mosquitoes may appear if the weather warms up.

The great hope now, of course, is that the Olympics will generate lovely weather – when people are indoors glued to their TV sets.

By Matthew Oates, a naturalist for the National Trust

Fancy a round? Join Tony Hawks for a film screening at unique Trust pub

Fans of comedian, author and Radio 4 regular Tony Hawks are invited to join him at a film screening with a difference next week.

Tony will be introducing his new film, Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, at the National Trust’s newly-acquired pub, Sticklebarn, in Great Langdale on Friday 20 July, and then hosting a question and answer session afterwards.

This independent British feature film tells the true story of Tony and an unlikely bet which turned into a life-changing adventure. Dramatised from the best-selling book of the same name, it’s a unique production – all profits go to the care centre for children with cerebral palsy in Chisinau, Moldova, which Tony started with the royalties from the book.

The bet involved Tony playing and beating the entire Moldovan national football team at tennis, one by one. He thought it would be easy – until he encountered gangsters, corruption, difficult football managers and terrible poverty.  

This is the second time Tony has appeared in an adaptation of his own books, the first being Round Ireland With A Fridge. Tony’s acting credits also include Red Dwarf and Morris Minor’s Marvellous Motors, and he’s a regular on radio and TV panel shows such as Have I got News For You and Radio 4’s Just a Minute.

Deborah Robertson, Business Development Manager for the Central and East Lakes team at the National Trust, says she loved the idea of Sticklebarn hosting such a quirky film screening. She said: “This screening came about after Tony became a member of the National Trust. He wanted to raise awareness of what we do and the type of unusual venues we have and we jumped at the chance to see him at Sticklebarn.

“We only took over the pub in the Spring and is unique because it is the only Trust-run pub in the country so all the pub’s profits will be used to care for the land around it. That means NT staff behind the bar, serving the very best local fare, and sharing their knowledge and expertise of the outdoors with the thousands of visitors who come to this valley. We’re making plans for all sorts of events and this is a great one to start with.”

Tony said: “My girlfriend and I became National Trust members this year after making use of the cafe at Mompesson House in Salisbury. When we got talking to the staff, we realised what good value joining was and we signed up straight away. I love the concept of our national treasures being shared by all, and am delighted to be helping the Trust with this screening. I love the Lake District – who doesn’t – especially this year when it doesn’t actually appear to be any wetter than anywhere else in the UK!”

The Sticklebarn screening takes place on Friday July 20 at 7.45pm. Tickets are free, though places are limited so we’re asking people to book in advance by calling Sticklebarn on 015394 37356.

- ENDS -

Media inquiries: please contact Suzanne Elsworth, National Trust Communications Consultant, on 07770 635354 or email suzanne.elsworth@nationaltrust.org.uk

An update from the team at Giant’s Causeway

We’re encouraging everyone to come and see the new interpretation at the Causeway for themselves and make up their own mind. But we realise not everyone contributing to the discussion may be able to come in person. So please allow us to take some time to describe exactly what we have in on site interpretation.

Once at the Causeway all visitors receive an audio guide which tells some of the history of the people who lived and worked here and then describes the formation of the Causeway landscape across 60 million years. This interpretation tool is the one which most visitors will be exposed to.

Inside the centre there are two major exhibits which we hope most of our visitors will see – a large model showing the landscape of the world heritage site and a big screen film. The film show has two films of around two minutes each. One of the films tells the tale of Finn McCool, the other shows how the Causeway landscape was formed and shaped, starting around 65 million years ago with the eruption of the lower basalts (followed by the formation of the columns and subsequent weathering and ice ages).

The more detailed exhibition space contains a whole range of activities for visitors who can spend a little big longer on site. Around one third of this space is devoted to ‘Formation and Shaping’. This in turn is laid out roughly by scale and time – i.e. those exhibits at one end are more global and look at the grand sweep of geological time, those at the other are more concerned with ‘column’ scale and the history of science.

Here’s a list of the exhibits within this area:

  • ‘Atlantic Widening’ – a turn handle exhibit primarily aimed at children which describes how the mid Atlantic ridge has been spreading for millions of years and still is today (at the speed your fingernails grow)
  • ‘Planet on the Move’ – a display which details other sites around the world which have basalt columns, and which clearly sets out when these formed in the context of the Causeway’s formation 60 million years ago
  • ‘Where on Earth’ – our largest touchscreen exhibit looks at 400 million years of Ireland’s rocks using a specially made paleoglobe animation – visitors click dates ranging from 400mya to 100my future (predicted), watch the continents shift and read facts about particular points (e.g. evolution and extinction of the dinosaurs, human evolution etc.)
  • ‘Causeway suspects’ – another touchscreen where visitors can look at the forces which have shaped the Causeway – lava, wind and rain (weathering), ice ages and people (Victorian path cutting to climate change). The dates of all these ‘suspects’ are clearly mentioned from 60mya for lava to hundreds of thousands of years for successive ice ages
  • ‘Causeway suspects’ – models and flipbooks of Causeway landscape features, the Boot, the Onion skin rocks and the Camel – exploring them as a glacial erratic, product of chemical weathering and dolertite dyke respectively (again stating how long the processes involved take)
  • ‘Modern Geologist’s desk’ – a touchscreen exploring the work of geologists on site today, a virtual microscope showing thin sections, an animation showing the basic geological succession sequence at the Causeway, and a virtual coffee cup to stir
  • ‘Basalt investigation’ (this and the following exhibits are in the more historical part) ‘basalt investigation’ is aimed more at younger visitors and helps them to look at the properties of basalt just as the first investigators did when they were working out what the Causeway columns were made of (shape, density, colour and texture) using actual pieces of rock. In particular it busts the idea that many visitors have before they arrive, that the columns’ formation somehow involved the sea.
  • ‘Ball and socket’ jointing – a full sized section of column demonstrates how ball and socket jointing formed in the columns
  • ‘Travelling column’ – tells the story of how columns and rock samples were removed over the years and have ended up in institutions all over the world

Lastly there is the ‘debating characters’ exhibit, which sparked the discussion. This exhibit consists of five different audio samples triggered by buttons. It is designed to give a flavour of the historical debates there have been over the Causeway’s formation – starting with arguments between Sir Thomas Molyneux and a mystery correspondent (probably George Ashe) over whether the columns were fossil or mineral. The next clip sets out a flavour of the argument between Vulcanists and Neptunists. The next clip details how James Hutton’s work opened the way for definitive proof of an ancient earth. The fourth clip mentions a theory published in the 1800s that the Causeway was fossilised bamboo. Then the final clip states that Young Earth Creationists exist who wish to continue the debate today, as they believe the earth is only 6000 years old.

Once again we urge all those who can visit the Causeway to do so. We believe we have approached this topic fairly, proportionately and entirely scientifically, and hope you will agree once you come to the Causeway in person.

National Trust statement and transcript of ‘debating characters’ exhibit

If you feel you have a question which has not been answered sufficiently here please direct it to enquiries.ni@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Or you can write to: Giant’s Causeway Interpretation Issues, The National Trust, Northern Ireland Regional Office, Rowallane House, Saintfield, Co. Down, BT24 7LH, and will do our best to answer your enquires there.