In the Alpefjord area, Caledonian metamorphism from the chlorite zone to the sillimanite zone is seen to cut across the sedimentary pile of the lower Eleonore Bay Group. Zircons have been collected from quartzite layers enriched in heavy minerals.U–Pb zircon dating in the chlorite and the sillimanite zones does not reveal the Caledonian event but, instead, previous episodes at 1100 and 2500 Ma ago. The Caledonian event can be recognized in anatectic gneisses where detrital zircons are surrounded by overgrowths, K–Ar and Rb–Sr methods yield 1030–410 Ma ages on micas, with a positive correlation between the degree of apparent reselling of mica ages and the grade of the Caledonian metamorphism.The following geological interpretation of the age data is proposed. (1) A major metamorphic event occurred around 1100 Ma ago in the source area for the lower Eleonore Bay Group sediments. During this Grenvillian event, Archaean detrital zircons were affected by an episodic lead loss and a muscovite phase recorded the cooling and uplift of a basement source area. (2) Erosion of this source area occurred after 1100 Ma, followed by sedimentation of the lower Eleonore Bay Group . The 2500–1100 Ma U–Pb system remained nearly a closed system during Caledonian metamorphism up to and including sillimanite-zone conditions.This example shows the great resistance or inherited zircons to an important secondary Pb loss during Caledonian metamorphism and consequently shows that the lower-intercept ages of zircons from metasedimentary rocks do not always record the last metamorphic event observed in situ, but retain memories of previous geological events in the sedimentary source areas. By contrast, zircons separated from quartzitic xenoliths in migmatitic gneisses have recorded a disturbance in their U–Pb systems that corresponds to Caledonian partial melting.