The occurrence of heavy rainfall events is expected to undergo significant changes under increasing anthropogenic forcing. South-eastern Europe is reacting rapidly to such changes, therefore understanding and forecasting of precipitation variability is vital to better comprehending environmental changes in this area. Here we present a sub-decadal reconstruction of enhanced rainfall events for the past 2000 years from the Southern Carpathians, Romania using peat geochemistry. Five clear periods of enhanced rainfall are identified at 125–250, 600–900, 1050–1300, 1400–1575 and 1725–1980 CE. Significant runoff is observed during the second half of the Medieval Warm Period, whilst the Little Ice Age was characterised by significant variability. The North Atlantic Oscillation appears to be the main control on regional precipitation, but changes in solar irradiance also seem to play a significant role, together with the Siberian High. Comparison of the data presented here with model outputs confirms the ability of models to predict general trends, and major shifts, but highlights the complexity of the region’s hydrological history.