deep weathering

erosion surfaces


tors in Caithness


The broad, preglacial valley of the Berriedale Water, looking west towards the inselberg of Morven and its distinctive summit tors


Image by Alan Moar



Key localities

Plain of Caithness

Langwell Forest


Preglacial landscapes

The imprint of glacial and post-glacial erosion on Caithness has often been slight and the gross form of the terrain was shaped in earlier times by weathering and fluvial processes operating under temperature to warm environments

Alain Godard (1965) recognised 4 main generations of relief in Caithness:

  • exhumed landsurfaces, formed before burial beneath Devonian sediments and now partially re-exposed by erosion
  • preglacial landsurfaces, comprising residual hills and Tertiary erosion surfaces, including the plain of Caithness itself
  • glacial landforms, products of erosion and deposition by former ice sheets
  • postglacial landforms cut in glacial deposits and including the extensive peatlands of The Flows.

These pages focus on the development of the relief before the Ice Age.