Pronival ramparts are discrete debris accumulations found below steep rock faces at the foot of snowbeds or firn fields but they are often confused with moraines, protalus rock glaciers or rock-slope failure debris accumulations. This can be attributed to a poor understanding of the modes of rampart genesis, failure to recognise the significance of topography in their development and the use of inappropriate diagnostic criteria. Various characteristics have been suggested for identification of pronival ramparts but these are derived largely from relict features. Research on actively accumulating ramparts has shown that some of the suggested criteria are no longer useful. This paper reviews existing criteria and shows that, for diagnostic purposes, more emphasis should be placed on the attributes of actively accumulating features. A more robust set of criteria, derived from common characteristics of actively accumulating ramparts, are proposed that assists in discriminating relict and active pronival ramparts from other discrete bedrock cliff-foot debris accumulations.