Spatially extensive internal layers have been traced in airborne radio-echo sounding (RES) data collected over Greenland during the late 1990s. By linking internal layers within individual flight-lines at crossover points, it is possible to identify spatially continuous layers that are interpreted as isochronous surfaces. Several of the survey lines pass over the GRIP core site, and this allows us to use the published GRIP age–depth relationship to accurately date these surfaces. Two layers, with ages of 3891 and 6956 years BP, have been traced over a large part of North Greenland. Accurately dated and spatially continuous isochrones are valuable for both assimilation within, and verification of, numerical models. For example, comparison of isochronous surfaces from a numerical simulation with those layers observed in RES data can be used to inform the choice of parameters (e.g. rheology) and climate history used to force a numerical model. To demonstrate the potential of the RES data, two layers for North Greenland were used to determine palaeo-accumulation rates. The inversion from layer depth to accumulation rate requires a three-dimensional velocity field. This velocity field is constructed by combining a two-dimensional balance-velocity field with an assumed vertical structure for the horizontal velocity. The isochronous-layer derived accumulation rates were compared with the Bales and others (2001) rates. A larger east–west gradient was found across the central ice divide for the derived accumulation rate, suggesting a trend in the Holocene accumulation rates for this region. The layers were also compared with isochronous surfaces derived from simulations of a three-dimensional thermodynamic ice-sheet model. Using the isochronous-layer derived accumulation rates to force the model improved the match between modelled and observed layers.