In the north Irish Sea basin (ISB), sedimentary successions constrained by AMS C-14 dates obtained from marine microfaunas record three major palaeoenvironmental shifts during the last deglacial cycle. (i) Marine muds (Cooley Point Interstadial) dated to between 16.7 and 14.7 C-14 kyr BP record a major deglaciation of the ISB following the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM). (ii)Terminal outwash and ice-contact landforms (Killard Point Stadial) were deposited during an extensive ice readvance, which occurred after 14.7 C-14 kyr BP and reached a maximum extent at ca.14 C-14 kyr BP. At this lime the lowlands surrounding the north ISB were drumlinised. Coeval flowlines reconstructed from these bedforms end at prominent moraines (Killard Point, Bride, St Bees) and indicate contemporaneity of drumlinisation from separate ice dispersal centres, substrate erosion by fast ice flow, and subglacial sediment transfer to ice-sheet margins. In north central Ireland bed reorganisation associated with this fast ice-flow phase involved overprinting and drumlinisation of earlier transverse ridges (Rogen-type moraines) by headward erosion along ice streams that exited through tidewater ice margins. This is the first direct terrestrial evidence that the British Ice Sheet (BIS) participated in Heinrich event 1 (H1). (iii) Regional mud drapes, directly overlying drumlins, record high relative sea-level (RSL) with stagnation zone retreat after 13.7 C-14 kyr BP (Rough Island Interstadial).Elsewhere in lowland areas of northern Britain ice-marginal sediments and morainic belts record millennial-scale oscillations of the BIS, which post-date the LGM advance on to the continental shelf, and pre-date the Loch Lomond Stadial (Younger Dryas) advance in highlands of western Scotland (ca. 11-10 C-14 kyr BP).In western, northwestern and northern Ireland, Killard Point Stadial (H1) ice limits are reconstructed from ice-flow lines that are coeval with those in the north ISB and end at prominent moraines. On the Scottish continental shelf possible H1-age ice limits are reconstructed from dated marine muds and associated ice marginal moraines. It is argued that the last major offshore ice expansion from the Scottish mountains post-dated ca. 15 C-14 kyr BP and is therefore part of the H1 event. In eastern England the stratigraphic significance of the Dimlington silts is re-evaluated because evidence shows that there was only one major ice oscillation post-dating ca.18 C-14 kyr BP in these lowlands.In a wider context the sequence of deglacial vents in the ISB (widespread deglaciation of southern part of the BIS --> major readvance during H1 --> ice sheet collapse) is similar to records of ice sheet variability from the southern margins of the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS). Well-dated ice-marginal records, however, show that during the Killard Point readvance the BIS was at its maximum position when retreat of the LIS was well underway. This phasing relationship supports the idea that the BIS readvance was a response to North Atlantic cooling induced by collapse of the LIS. (C) 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.