New U–Pb ages on detrital monazite from the Carboniferous of central England show a clear difference between populations from northerly and southeasterly derived sandstones. The northern source was responsible for most of the detritus that entered the basin during Namurian times and is dominated by monazites of Scandian age with normally distributed 235U/207Pb ages averaging 420 ± 7 Ma (2σ). One older grain gives a Proterozoic age of 2040 ± 1.4 Ma (2σ). The data suggest a source region within the Scandian orogen. Southeasterly derived sediments are more heterogeneous and show a range of Variscan, Acadian, Ordovician and Sveconorwegian ages. Variscan uplifting of terranes of central Europe would provide a suitable source for this assemblage.