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The northerly location of Scotland in the British Isles, its mountainous terrain largely on its western side, openness to the northeast Atlantic and consequent high precipitation, ensured that it was a major centre of ice throughout the Pleistocene. Powerful ice-streams left glacial deposits on the continental shelf (Chapter 11), glaciated Ulster, northeast England, the Irish Sea Basin, notably as far south as Pembrokeshire in Wales, County Waterford in Ireland and the Wolverhampton district in Staffordshire.

The main centres of ice accumulation were in the north and west of Scotland, with other centres located in the Southern Uplands and in Skye. The ‘pre-glacial’ watershed, that lay to the west of Scotland, ensured that the most spectacular glacial erosion occurred in the north and west. Deep and extensive glacial erosion effectively removed most of the deposits of pre-Late Devensian over wide areas. Such deposits are only poorly preserved in the ‘rain-shadow’ areas of northeast Scotland and in the Inverness region, along with other fortuitous preservation elsewhere as, for example, in Ayrshire, but even there the record only extends back to the Middle Devensian.

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