The most significant themes in Coleraine's past are illustrated in this volume. The nearby Mountsandel fort, for example, is the earliest human settlement in Ireland. St Patrick and St Columba are traditionally believed to have visited Cul Rathain on their Christian missions to Ireland; burned by the Normans, this town - Coleraine in its anglicized spelling - expanded as a planned Plantation town and became an important port. It played a role in the 19th century as a trade, rail and road centre; in the 20th it also acquired a reputation for educational excellence which culminated in the establishment of a new university. At least as important as all of these has been Coleraine's influential role in the identity of the Causeway coast region.