Large-eddy simulations of the development of shallow cumulus convection over land are presented. Many characteristics of the cumulus layer previously found in simulations of quasi-steady convection over the sea are found to be reproduced in this more strongly forced, unsteady case. Furthermore, the results are shown to be encouragingly robust, with similar results obtained with eight independent models, and also across a range of numerical resolutions. The datasets produced are already being used in the development and evaluation of parametrizations used in numerical weather-prediction and climate models. © Royal Meteorological Society, 2002. A. R. Brown's, A. P. Lock's and M. K. MacVean's contributions are Crown copyright.