This is an experimental and theoretical study of the process of time-dependent solidification in an enclosed liquid cooled from the side. The focus is on the effect of high Rayleigh number convection, and the convection-conduction interaction across the freezing front. Experiments at Ra ≈ 1011 and Ste ≈ 0.1 show the existence of a weakly turbulent flow in the early stages of the solidification process. The parametric domain of this study is expanded through the use of a theoretical model of the combined conduction and convection process with time-dependent stratification in the liquid pool. The accuracy of this model is demonstrated by comparing its predictions with the experimental measurements. The effect that the time, the Stefan number and the conductivity and diffusivity ratios have on the solidification rate is documented graphically. © 1990.