Dramatically perched on a 100-foot-high basalt-rock cliff, halfway between Portrush and the Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle is one of the north's most evocative ruins. Even roofless, this shattered bulk conjures up a strength and aura that is quintessentially Antrim. Originally a 13th-century Norman fortress, Dunluce was captured in the 16th century by the local MacDonnell clan chiefs—the so-called Lords of the Isles. They enlarged it, in part using profits from salvaging
the Spanish galleon Girona, and made it an important base for ruling northeastern Ulster. Perhaps the MacDonnells expanded the castle a bit too much, for in 1639 faulty construction caused the kitchens (with all the cooks) to plummet into the sea during a storm. Between 2009 and 2012, archaeologists uncovered belt buckles, thimbles, dress fastenings, jewelry, clay pipes, animal bones, and shards of pottery that are now on display in the Discovery Room. An 8-minute introductory film explores the castle's history, and a 10-minute film details the excavations. Audio guides are available in seven languages.Guided tours are held every day in the summer months and last 45 minutes. Children love the sand pit where they handle tools and dress up.