The value of a formally defined Anthropocene for geomorphologists is discussed. Human impacts have been diachronistic, multifaceted and episodic, as demonstrated by the record of alluvial deposition in the UK. Rather than boxing time into discrete eras or periods, modern research uses calendar dates and multiple dating techniques to explore co-trajectories for a range of human impacts. Despite the value of ‘The Anthropocene’ as an informal concept and as a prompt to useful debate, arriving at a single, generally acceptable formal definition is impractical, and has some disadvantages. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.