Examination of two radiocarbon-dated vibrocores taken from south of St Kilda at a water depth of about 155 m, a short distance within the maximum position of the Late Devensian (Dimlington Stadial) ice sheet, suggests that the St Kilda Basin became free of glacier ice after 15250 yr BP. Sedimentation in a shallow, low energy, high arctic, muddy environment continued until after 13500 yr BP. There followed a higher energy temperate episode during which water depths were roughly about 40 m: this is correlated with the latter part of the Windermere Interstadial and with the warmer interval known in shallow Scottish seas about or a little before 11 000 yr BP. The Loch Lomond (Younger Dryas) Stadial is marked in the vibrocores by the return of muddy sediments and a cold-water fauna. Relatively shallow water conditions seem to have persisted into the earliest Flandrian, when the water depth was still roughly 60 m, corresponding to a sea-level in the area 90–100 m below present. It is suggested that pack ice was widespread in the northeast Atlantic before the Windermere Interstadial and also during the Loch Lomond Stadial, when it transported shards of Icelandic volcanic ash into the St Kilda basin. Estimates of sea-surface temperature for the last part of the Windermere Interstadial are close to those derived from the deep-sea record for the same period.