The faunal criteria for the recognition of the relative separation of old continents are: 1, the contrast between shallow- (not deep-) water faunas off opposite shorelines; 2, the recognition of deeper-water facies surrounding the edges of continents; and 3, the recognition of the disposition of ancient climatic belts. These criteria are defined and used to assess the relative position of the various parts of what is now Britain in the Palaeozoic. The Iapetus Ocean is well characterized by faunal differences from the Cambrian until the lower Ordovician, but from Caradoc times onwards these differences dwindle, until by the latest Silurian only the distribution of the ostracods separates the two sides of the ocean on faunal grounds. In the early Ordovician, S British faunas are comparable with those from Bohemia, France and elsewhere to the S, indicating connection with Gondwanaland, and these faunas differ from those in the Baltic area, a distribution which we attribute to a true ocean, Tornquist's Sea, between N and S Europe. Tornquist's Sea probably closed in the upper Ordovician, and from Ashgill times onwards the S British and Baltic faunas remained similar. During the middle and late Silurian there is evidence of increasing faunal distinction between Britain, the Baltic area and North America on the one hand and southern Europe and Gondwanaland on the other, indicating an opening Rheic Ocean which appears to have persisted until late Carboniferous times.