Constraints on the timing of Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) changes during the last deglaciation are fundamental to understanding the climate's rapid response to insolation forcing. However, uncertainty about high-latitude North Atlantic (HLNA) radiocarbon reservoir ages has previously precluded robust age model development for this critical region. HLNA reservoir ages also serve as a proxy for AMOC strength. We present regionally averaged HLNA reservoir ages for 0 to 41 thousand years before the present (kyr BP) based on over 500 radiocarbon dates from 33 North Atlantic cores. An early deglacial increase to >1000 14C yr reservoir ages between 18.5 and 16.5 kyr BP suggests reduced AMOC before peak Heinrich Stadial 1 (HS1) ice-rafted debris (IRD). A rapid decrease in reservoir ages coincident with the IRD maximum at 16 kyr BP indicates strong stratification of the upper water column caused by massive freshwater release.