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Fingal's Cave


(Uamh-Bhinn)

Located on the southern shore of the island of Staffa, in Argyll and Bute, Fingal's Cave is one of the most famous images of the Scottish Islands. Created by volcanic activity in the Tertiary Era, it is lined by basalt lava, which has cooled into hexagonal black columns. Almost cathedral-like in its proportions, the cave has an opening of 13m (42 feet), rises to a height of 20m (66 feet) and a depth of 69m (227 feet). The back of the cave is accessible by dinghy or along a narrow and rough footpath.

Brought to the notice of the scientific community by Sir Joseph Banks, who landed here on 12th August 1772 and wrote a detailed account of both the cave and island. Thomas Pennant published this account in his A Tour of Scotland and a Voyage to the Hebrides. Fingal's Cave has been popular with visitors since Victorian times, with regular boat-trips run from Mull and Oban. It was one of the inspirations for the composer Felix Mendelssohn and his Hebrides Overture. Other visitors have included Queen Victoria, poets William Wordsworth, John Keats and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, author Jules Verne, and artist J.M.W. Turner, whose work Staffa, Fingal's Cave was completed in 1832. The cave featured briefly in the film When Eight Bells Toll (1971), based on Alistair Maclean's novel.

The cave's Gaelic name is Uamh-Bhinn, or 'melodious cave' and the BBC television programme Coast used an acoustics expert to illustrate its reverberative qualities.

Fingal's Cave is part of the Staffa National Nature Reserve, managed by the National Trust for Scotland.


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