A detailed examination of the boundary between Peach and Home's (1899) Northern and Central Belts, in the Lower Palaeozoic rocks of the Southern Uplands of Scotland and their Irish continuation in Longford–Down, demonstrates it to be a major Caledonian sinistral wrench fault. Maps and descriptions of outcrops of the fault at Slieve Glah in County Cavan, at Orlock Bridge on the NE coast of Down, at Cairngarroch on the Rhinns of Galloway and at Garvald, 11 km SW of Dunbar, are presented. A distinctive fault fabric, clearly the result of repeated sinistral slip at the first three localities, characterises these outcrops along the 400 km trace. The fabric elements include: (1) lenticular shearing of arenites in the fault protolith, (2) a fault-associated phyllonitic fabric, with abundant pressure-solution seams, overprinting the regional S1, (3) numerous foliation-parallel quartz segregations, (4) refolding of the regional S1 cleavage, segregation veins and the phyllonitic fabric in at least two generations of steeply plunging, sinistrally-verging folds, (5) a non-penetrative crenulation cleavage, (6) a locally developed sinistral S–C fabric, and (7) typical protomylonite, mylonite and ultramylonite textures in thin sections of the fault rocks. The zone of fault-associated deformation varies from a few metres across at Garvald to over 1 km at Slieve Glah. The fault thus differs from other tract-defining faults in the Southern Uplands, particularly in its clear evidence of ductile, quasi-plastic, deformation at depth, in its lack of associated imbrication, in its significant refolding and overprinting of the regional S1 cleavage and in its uniquely large stratigraphic effects.
The main fabric-generating movement postdates the regional, accretion-related, S1 cleavage but predates minor Caledonian (c. 400 Ma) intrusions. For its entire length the fault separates the Northern Belt, with proof only of Upper Ordovician turbidites, and the Central Belt, where turbidite deposition began in the Silurian. The age of the base of the turbidites decreases southward by some six graptolite zones at the fault trace. The fault thus either (a) excises the equivalent of four tracts from a single accretionary-prism terrane, or (b) juxtaposes two distinct terranes, one of late Ordovician and the other of Silurian age. In either event the sinistral slip is probably in excess of 400 km.