Mantle plume activity and lithospheric folding by far-field stresses exerted from plate boundaries are two important end-members as mechanisms for continental intraplate deformation. The topographic expression of mantle plume impingement on continental lithosphere and lithospheric folding has some striking similarities. Observations from a number of areas in Europe's intraplate lithosphere demonstrate that these mechanisms commonly interact in space and time. We present the results of thermomechanical modelling addressing the role of factors such as the presence of a hot upper mantle, the spatial dimensions of the plume and the time constants involved in the temporal succession of plume activity and lithospheric folding by stress accumulation in intraplate continental lithosphere. The results demonstrate that both the processes, plume-lithosphere interactions and folding may interact resulting either in strong amplification, attenuation or modification of their surface expression. These inferences are compatible with a number of key observations on the nature and the temporal succession of topography evolution in the Alpine foreland, the Pannonian Basin, the Scandinavian continental margin and the Iberian Peninsula. © 2009 The Authors Journal compilation © 2009 RAS.