IT WAS the false eyeballs that were the hardest part.

When 'bringing the boar's head back to life' for the annual Queen's College, Oxford, Christmas feast in 1976, head chef Mark Steenson had to find two sparkling eyeballs that gave the beast a winning expression.

The false tongue and tusks were also a challenge, along with wedging the gold crown onto the boar's head.

Except, as the college's domestic bursar Pat Townson told Oxford Mail reporter Valerie Green, that was the biggest fib of all – it wasn't even a real boar's head.

"We asked them to select a particularly handsome sow's head, cut well back the shoulder so that it will sit on a salver.

"Boars' heads are not nearly as big, as heavy or as beautiful – besides being hard to obtain."

This article was written a decade before future prime minister David Cameron celebrated a quite different tradition at Oxford involving a pig's head.