Mounting evidence from proxy records suggests that variations in solar activity have played a significant role in triggering past climate changes. However, the mechanisms for sun-climate links remain a topic of debate. Here we present a high-resolution summer sea-surface temperature (SST) record covering the past 9300 yr from a site located at the present-day boundary between polar and Atlantic surface-water masses. The record is age constrained via the identification of 15 independently dated tephra markers from terrestrial archives, circumventing marine reservoir age variability problems. Our results indicate a close link between solar activity and SSTs in the northern North Atlantic during the past 4000 yr; they suggest that the climate system in this area is more susceptible to the influence of solar variations during cool periods with less vigorous ocean circulation. Furthermore, the high-resolution SST record indicates that climate in the North Atlantic regions follows solar activity variations on multidecadal to centennial time scales.