Kilkenny, Ireland 500 Million years ago
During the week I posted an article about the area around the mountain of Slievenamon, County Kilkenny.
I hope over the summer to post many times about this area and show many of the foot hills along with the main mountain itself. A fellow blogger margaret, suggested that the formation of the mountain and the oval shape of the extending foot hills could be volcanic in their origins, I do think at some point in the long distant past this could be true.
I found the following summary of the geological history of county Kilkenny so I am going to share it here as I found it fascinating to think of some 500 million years of history of Ireland and its Geology.
Also a Gallery of images that show some of the amazing ice age rocks and landscape formations that can be found through out this great little part of the world.
Geologic History of Kilkenny
500 Million years ago – Sedimentary rock formed under parts of eastern Kilkenny, which was
under the sea.
400 Million years ago – the two parts of Ireland, the island, were fused together under the ocean.
400 Million years ago – the mountains at Brandon and the uplands at Tullogher were formed, again
under the sea.
350 Million years ago – Kilkenny was at a dry land stage with plant life that fossilized into the
yellow sandstones of Kiltorcan.
345 Million years ago – Kilkenny was submerged for about 20 Million years under a tropical shallow
ocean. Lime deposits from this era eventually became the limestone found commonly in
Kilkenny and Ireland. The polished limestone provides the famous Kilkenny marble.
320 million years ago – Kilkenny covered by a muddy delta and swamps, with deposits eventually
forming todays sandstones and coal.
250 Million years ago – a mountain building era resulting in the east-west mountains of Munster,
and the Walsh Mountain area between Millinavat and Slievenamon.
2 Million years ago – Ice age glacial periods intermixed with cold and warm periods begin.
500,000 years ago – A warm period known as the Gortian. Kilkenny is covered by forest of birch,
oak, pine, leder, fir, holly, yew, heather and grass.
200,000 years ago – A cold period lasting 70,000 years called the Munsterian. All of Kilkenny (and
Ireland) is covered by a sea of ice. Movement of Glaciers helped form the soil of today.
130,000 years ago – A warm period known as the Glenavian lasting about 60,000 years with climate
much like today.
70,000 years ago – A cold phase lasting about 60,000 years known as the Midlandian stage. Ice
sheets covered the northern half of Kilkenny, from Callan to Goresbridge. The southern have
would have included tundra grasslands and some woodland. Animal life is noted during this
time, including wooly mammoths, wolf, arctic fox, brown bear, the giant Irish Elk, reindeer
10,000 years ago – The ice begins to melt, sea levels begin to rise and plants begin to reappear
in all of Kilkenny.
9,000 years ago – A birch dominated forest covers much of Kilkenny.
8,000 years ago – Hazel and pine become part of the forest population.
Landscape and Geological Gallery
Forty square miles around Slievenamon
The Mountain of Slievenamon is located about 10km from our home and over the last few years I have walked up and around the this mountain a lot.
It is an area I am very taken by and love exploring.
For anyone who has visited the mountain and surrounding area, something that you may not have noticed however it the complete scale and geology of the mountain. When you look at the area from a satellite image (Like the one below) the geology of the area becomes a bit clearer.
To the left of the image above is the main mountain peek of Slievenamon, itself Rising up some 721m above the landscape below, however this is not the full extent of the mountain, spreading out towards the east and from the north and south of the mountain run two ridges of hills. These ridges them selves form an oval shape that meets some eight miles away from the mountain top.
Over the summer I want to record this complete area returning to the top of the mountain and then walking and recording as much of the ridge’s as possible.
History and Megalithic locations
One of the main reason I have for starting this project on the blog, is that for sometime I have noticed that both at the very top of Sleivenamon and around the oval of the extended foot hills are many Megalithic sites ( Stone circles, Passage tombs, Graves and Standing stones).
I will come back to the satellite image above and mark the location of any landscape images I post.
Above all I just want to share the landscape that I live in and reflect upon some of its history and enjoy myself getting to know it as much as I can.
The Landscape of Slievenamon
Taken on the same day as the image of Milk hill, this image shows a view of Coumfea a corrie lake in the Nier valley, I have many other images of the lake that I will post in full.
A Corrie lake is formed as follows :
How Is a Corrie Formed?
A corrie is formed in different steps. First, the snow accumulates in a hillside hollow and turns to ice. Then, the hollow is deepened by abrasion and plucking and the ice in the corrie moves under the influence of gravity, deepening the hollow still further. Since the ice is at the foot of the hollow and moves more slowly, a rock lip forms. When the ice melts, a lake or tarn may be formed in the corrie. The steep back wall may be severely weathered by freeze€“thaw weathering, providing material for further abrasion.
Geology and Myth
It was on a very wet October morning that we arrived at the giants causeway, its located just outside of the town of Bushmills, county Antrim, on the north Irish coast.
Its a national trust site so you have to pay a fee to get in to the area. Its a small walk from the visitors center to the causeway itself but its well worth it.
This is both a magical and mythical location and one of the worlds most geologically fascinating places.
I took the following images on the day and even though it was very wet and dull I think they get across the feeling you have when your walking around this site. I have added some information as the the geology and the myth’s associated with this truly wonderful place.
The Geology of the causeway
Giant’s Causeway, ( Irish: Clochán an Aifir) promontory of basalt columns along 4 miles (6 km) of the northern coast of Northern Ireland. It lies on the edge of the Antrim plateau between Causeway Head and Benbane Head, some 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Derry. There are approximately 40,000 of these stone pillars, each typically with five to seven irregular sides, jutting out of the cliff faces as if they were steps creeping into the sea.
Formed 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene Period, the Giant’s Causeway resulted from successive flows of lava inching toward the coast and cooling when they contacted the sea. Layers of basalt formed columns, and the pressure between these columns sculpted them into polygonal shapes that vary from 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 cm) in diameter and measure up to 82 feet (25 metres) in height. They are arrayed along cliffs averaging some 330 feet (100 metres) in elevation.
Myths behind the magic
Thanks to Kirribilli for this re-telling:
Long, long ago there lived a mighty warrior who was known across the length and breadth of Erin for his strength and bravery, no man on the island was his match and apart from repelling the hoards and the armies that attempted to invade our green land, being the best can be a bit boring and Fionn mac Cumhaill needed a challenge, he needed to prove to himself that he was the greatest warrior both on and off the island.
At that time the scourge of Scotland was a giant called Benandonner and on hearing tales of this beast of a man, Fionn knew that if he could beat this giant, his name would be known the world over. He made his way up to the Ulster coast, shouted across the water at Benandonner and challenged him to a fight.
Now normal people would take a boat and sail across the sea but not these two, they set upon ripping huge rocks out of the ground and throwing them into the sea separating Ireland from Scotland until after hours and days of back-breaking work there stretched a rocky causeway linking the two lands.
They’d agreed to fight between their two lands and seeing that bridge was complete, they made their way across the land bridge. As they approached each other it became apparent how big Benandonner really was, this wasn’t just a big man, this was a true giant.
Now Fionn was not a small man himself but the sheer size of the Scottish giant scared him, suddenly a fight with a monster like that wasn’t as appealing…
So he ran.
But not too far, once he was out of Benandonner’s sight he disguised himself as a baby, which was somewhat apt as he always had his best ideas when he sucked his thumb.
When Benandonner found the baby he asked it who its father was, he was told the baby was Fionn mac Cumhaill’s. When he heard this and saw the size of the baby, he imagined how big the father would be, he would be gigantic, he wouldn’t stand a chance, so he ran.
He ran back to the land of the Scots and on his way back he made sure to destroy the bridge, lest Fionn ever come looking for him…