As the majority of the data on Quaternary sediments from the North Sea Basin are seismostratigraphical, we analysed the Elsterian Swarte Bank Formation, the Late Saalian Fisher Formation and the Late Weichselian (Dimlington Stadial) Bolders Bank Formation in order to determine genesis and provenance. The Swarte Bank Formation is a subglacial till containing palynomorphs from the Moray Forth and the northeastern North Sea, and metamorphic heavy minerals from the Scottish Highlands. The Fisher Formation was sampled from the northern and central North Sea. In the north, it is interpreted as a subglacial till, with glaciomarine sediments cropping out further south. These sediments exhibit a provenance signature consistent with the Midland Valley of Scotland, the Eocene of the North Sea Basin, the Grampian Highlands and northeast Scotland. The Bolders Bank Formation is a subglacial till containing palynomorphs from the Midland Valley of Scotland, northern Britain, and a metamorphic heavy-mineral suite indicative of the Grampian Highlands, Southern Uplands and northeast Scotland. These data demonstrate that there was repeated glaciation of the North Sea Basin during the Middle and Late Pleistocene, with ice sheets originating in northern Scotland. There was no evidence for a Scandinavian ice sheet in the western North Sea basin. Copyright (C) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.