Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Sea Stacks

Out by the RSPB Bird Sanctuary on Rathlin:

Sea stacks out by the West Lighthouse on Rathlin Island.  That would be the North Antrim coast there in the distance and in-between 3 miles of water with very strong currents.  Rathlin lies between Ireland and Scotland and it's where the Irish Sea meets the Atlantic, by the North Channel.  Many a ship has floundered around the island - it's a major place of interest for deep-sea divers, what with all those wrecks and everything.  Split-grade printed on Ilford MG IV for a change, and a light wash in some sepia that was brewed nearly a year ago and still seems to have some life in it.
For many a year, the 'ownership' of Rathlin was disputed - sometimes it was a Scottish Lord wot claimed it, other times it was the Irish equivalent.  Since the earliest settlements of man in Ireland lie not to far away near my home town of Coleraine, along the River Bann valley, it is thought that man first came to Ireland via Scotland, around 6000-5000 BC.  Perhaps it is not too unreasonable to assume that they stopped off on Rathlin on the way.  A few thousand years later and the presence of an extremely hard stone called porcellanite was discovered, found to the west of the island not too far from where this snap was taken.  Rathlin axe-heads made from this material have been found all over Ireland and as far away as Southern England, so it's safe to assume there was a thriving export business all those years ago on the island.

View from the platform at the Bird Sanctuary.  In July the big stack there in the foreground is covered with sea-birds.  In August, when we went, there were hardly any left - all the breeding had been done and they were off.

Flint was another rare raw material found in abundance in the limestone cliffs on the island.  Arrowheads, skin scrapers and axes have all been found on the island.  Interestingly, more artefacts were found in the days when the land was ploughed by horse, when you actually watched the furrow being turned.  Finds are not so common nowadays, since all ploughing is done by tractor.

Whatever the history, this place is pretty special.  I'd love to be out here in the middle of winter, in a howling gale for a few days.  That's love in the knowledge that I'd have McCuaig's Bar as a bolthole and then the ferry back home in a day or two.


  1. I would certainly join you for a few days out in this wilderness during a real hammering gale, Michael. I would have a bit further to go before I was home, but I could probably manage the thought of that.
    Would need to make sure that bar was open during the worst winds, of course...
    Great snaps again, mate! I like that ever so slight sepia tone on them :)

    1. Cheers Roy appreciate the comments. Mind you, I think I'd prefer to be on Rathlin in a Force 10 than anchored somewhere in the Piper oilfield. Stay safe out there this winter, mate.