High-precision correlation of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental records is crucial for testing hypotheses of synchronous change. Although radiocarbon is the traditional method for dating late Quaternary sedimentary sequences, particularly during the last glacial–interglacial transition (LGIT; 15–9 ka), there are inherent problems with the method, particularly during periods of climate change which are often accompanied by major perturbations in atmospheric radiocarbon content. An alternative method is the use of tephras that act as time-parallel marker horizons. Within Europe, numerous volcanic centres are known to have erupted during the LGIT, providing considerable potential for high-precision correlation independent of past radiocarbon fluctuations. Here we report the first identification of the Vedde Ash and Askja Tephra in Ireland, significantly extending the known provenance of these events. We have also identified two new horizons (the Roddans Port Tephras A and B) and tentatively recognise an additional horizon from Vallensgård Mose (Denmark) that provide crucial additional chronological control for the LGIT. Two phases of the Laacher See Tephra (LST) are reported, the lower Laacher See Tephra (LLST) and probably the C2 phase of the Middle Laacher See Tephra (MLST-C2) indicating a more northeasterly distribution of this fan than reported previously. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.