The Iapetus Suture (Solway) line coincides with a magnetic low, which lies between magnetic highs over southwestern Scotland and the Lake District-Isle of Man region. Although topography on deep magnetic basement can account for these long wavelength geophysical variations, an explanation which involves lateral basement magnetization contrasts is preferred on the basis of (a) correlations between inferred magnetization boundaries and major structures delineated from other evidence, and (b) the apparent westward continuation of the Solway low through Ireland and Newfoundland across areas with very different subsidence histories but similar position with respect to the collision of Laurentia and Avalonia. In the preferred model, relatively magnetic continental crust beneath the Southern Uplands and Lake District terranes is separated by a zone of less magnetic crust interpreted as sedimentary rock of Avalonian affinity carried to deeper structural levels within the Iapetus Suture Zone. The magnetic unit beneath the Southern Uplands is bounded to the south by the northward-dipping Iapetus Suture and to the north by a structure which may have been reactivated in late Caledonian times to produce the Moniaive Shear Zone in the overlying rocks; this unit may represent the ‘missing’ arc terrane inferred from provenance studies. Alternatively, the two magnetic basement domains may have originally been part of the same terrane, with that portion beneath the Southern Uplands rifting from the Avalonian continent during its northwards drift and being subsequently trapped in the hanging wall of the Iapetus Suture. The southern margin of the Lake District domain appears as a discontinuity in the magnetic anomaly pattern, with long wavelength anomalies to the south having a southeast ‘Tornquist’ trend.