The elm decline of 5000 14C yr ago has been the most widely discussed phenomenon in post-glacial vegetation history. This pan-European reduction of elm populations, echoed in the decimation of elmwoods in Europe during the twentieth century, has attracted a series of interrelated hypotheses involving climate change, human activity, disease and soil deterioration. The elm bark beetle (Scolytus scolytus L.) is an essential component of disease explanations. We present evidence for the presence of the beetle over a prolonged period (ca. 7950–4910 yr BP [8800–5660 cal. yr BP]) from a lowland raised mire deposit in northeast Scotland, with its final appearance at this site, and the first and only appearance in another mire of a single scolytid find, around the time of the elm decline. The subfossil S. scolytus finds are not only the first from Scotland, but they also represent the most comprehensive sequence of finds anywhere. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.