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The character of Quaternary deposits in Northern England is largely determined by its Palaeozoic rocks and by surrounding Mesozoic sedimentary basins in the Irish and North Seas. The region was strongly affected by ice from Scottish sources that crossed the offshore Mesozoic basins, passing onshore along the coasts of Lancashire, Cumbria, Northumbria and East Yorkshire and coalescing with local ice radiating outwards from the uplands of the Pennines, the Lake District and Northumbria.

The stratigraphical record in Northern England comprises glacial deposits overlain by extensive marine, estuarine and inter-tidal sediments along the low coastal margins of Lancashire, Morecambe Bay, the Solway Lowlands and adjacent parts of the Irish Sea basin, and by lake sediments, lowland moss basins and blanket upland peats. The glacial deposits reflect either offshore or local ice sources but other than in the Isle of Man the chronostratigraphic relationship between them, and the nature of ice sheet coalescence and subsequent uncoupling during various glacial stages, is unclear.

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