This study presents a new interpretation of the evidence for Holocene lake-level changes from Hawes Water in NW England constrained by detailed stratigraphic data, radiocarbon chronology and palaeo-environmental evidence. Lake levels are seen to decline gradually from the start of the Holocene through to 9960 cal. yr BP, in response to lake infilling and the prevailing dry climatic conditions. Low lake levels then persist until 6000 cal. yr BP, punctuated by two transgressive phases. Rising sea levels during the Holocene high-level sea stand are thought to be responsible for a major rise in lake level at 6000 cal. yr BP driven by changes in the local water-table. The rise in lake level is coincident with a rise in anthropogenic activity across the site, possibly reflecting the migration of coastal Mesolithic communities inland in response to rising sea levels.