Middle Pleistocene

This is the period during which ice sheets reached their maximum extent in NW Europe. Till of Scottish derivation is found in sediments in the central North Sea dated to around 800 kyr and reflect the former existence of a large ice sheet. The palaeo-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.

Glacial deposits extend to the edge of the continental shelf west of Orkney. These deposits include till from the Anglian ice sheet which advanced at around 450 kyr but also younger till sheets. It is likely that Orkney was covered by ice sheets on several occasions.

Tertiary

Early Pleistocene

Late Pleistocene 

Holocene

Quaternary of the northern North Sea

Events on and around Orkney before the last ice sheet