Middle Pleistocene

This is the period during which ice sheets reached their maximum extent in NW Europe. Glacial deposits of Scottish derivation is found in sediments in the central North Sea and dated to around 800 kyr: it reflects the former existence of a large ice sheet. The Ice Age temperature graph opposite suggests that ice sheets covered Scotland on many subsequent occasions in the Middle Pleistocene and stratigraphic evidence of many of these ice advances is known from the North Sea and continental shelf west of Scotland.

The Middle Pleistocene is probably the period of maximum ice thickness in the Cairngorms. Certainly, the mountains were repeatedly covered by ice for long intervals. As the Cairngorms include the largest area of ground over 1000m in the British Isles, it is likely that ice-free intervals were confined to interglacial periods, with temperatures the same as or slightly cooler than today.

                                               ice cover models

Tertiary  Early Pleistocene  Late Pleistocene   Holocene