Holocene glacial and periglacial landscapes of Britain and Ireland

Philip Hughes, Matt Tomkins, Chris D. Clark, Philip L. Gibbard, Neil F Glasser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


There are no glaciers today in Britain and Ireland and snowpatches are only semi-permanent, disappearing entirely from even the highest mountains in some years. However, snow is an important geomorphological agent with nivation and other periglacial processes active in many mountainous regions, and especially in Scotland. In the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland, late-lying snow frequently survives the summer. Here, and in the western Highlands on Ben Nevis, boulder ridges close to cirque headwalls have been interpreted as moraines formed by niche glaciers, some of which have been dated to the Late Holocene, and tentatively linked to cooling during the Little Ice Age (LIA, c. ad 1300–1850). Whilst there is debate as to whether such ridges represent pronival ramparts or moraines, there is a renewed interest in the possibility of renewed glaciation during the LIA in the mountains of Britain. Further work is needed to identify potential niche glacier and nivation sites across Britain and Ireland and reassess whether these formed during the Late Pleistocene Late-glacial or are Holocene in age. Distinguishing between these hypotheses will provide important insights into the nature and magnitude of glacial, periglacial and paraglacial landscape evolution during the Holocene.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Glacial Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationThe Holocene
EditorsDavid Palacios, Philip D. Hughes, Vincent Jomelli, Luis M. Tanarro
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherElsevier BV
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780323997133
ISBN (Print)9780323997126
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • snow
  • snowpatch
  • niche glacier
  • moraine
  • pronival rampart
  • Scotland


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