The emerging tephrostratigraphy of NW Europe spanning the last termination (ca. 15–9 ka) provides the potential for synchronizing marine, ice-core and terrestrial records, but is currently compromised by stratigraphic complications, geochemical ambiguity and imprecise age estimates for some layers. Here we present new tephrostratigraphic, radiocarbon and chironomid-based palaeotemperature data from Abernethy Forest, Scotland, that refine the ages and stratigraphic positions of the Borrobol and Penifiler tephras. The Borrobol Tephra (14.14–13.95 cal ka BP) was deposited in a relatively warm period equated with Greenland Interstadial sub-stage GI-1e. The younger Penifiler Tephra (14.09–13.65 cal ka BP) is closely associated with a cold oscillation equated with GI-1d. We also present evidence for a previously undescribed tephra layer that has a major-element chemical signature identical to the Vedde Ash. It is associated with the warming trend at the end of the Younger Dryas, and dates between 11.79 and 11.20 cal ka BP. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.