RENAMING an Old Town pub the Pig on the Hill is degrading to the area, according to a local resident.

A letter to Swindon Advertiser condemning the change of name from The Pipers Arms to The Pig On The Hill has sparked a controversy over keeping historic pub names intact even if their meanings have long vanished in the mists of time.

Siobhan and Daniel O’Connell from local family firm ABR Leisure Ltd have taken over the pub in Devizes Road, which closed last year.

In a letter to the Advertiser, local history enthusiast Mary Ratcliffe, from Old Town, said she was concerned about the new name degrading the dignity of the area.

She wrote: “I beseech you, not the degradation of The Pig On The Hill in a very precious part of Swindon that is struggling to reclaim its heart and soul.’’ Daniel, 34, revealed that they chose the name because of the common belief that Swindon is named after the Anglo Saxon word for pig, which is Swine, and Dun, which is hill.

But archaeologist Bryn Walters believes there is no evidence to suggest that Swindon ever had anything to do with pigs in its early origins.

Bryn said: “The name is Saxon in origin and what would be most logical is that it comes from a wealthy Saxon Thane – lord – who owned the hill. He is believed to have been called Sven.

“The hill would have been devoid of vegetation. It was open landscape at that time and pigs live in forest areas. Excavation around the Locarno area revealed a Saxon settlement.

“In fact a piece of treasure, gold with a garnet inlay, was trapped in the floor.’’ He added that pubs should keep their original names becomes they often related to the history of the site.

“Why not call it Sven’s Wateringhole?’’ he said.

Over the years the pub has had many names: The Fountain, Cartoons, The Rock Garden, The Hobgoblin and then The Pipers Arms, and now is set to become The Pig on the Hill But Daniel insists there was never any intention of offending anyone with the name.

“It has become a talking point and raised the subject of its historical meaning, but we never thought it would raise such controversy and certainly never meant for it to offend or to be seen as degrading in any way,’’ he said.

“As a family that are proud to have been born and bred in Swindon, we wanted to choose a name that was specific to the history of our home town.

“We kept coming back to the Saxon era and their residing on The Hill, plus the fact that the cattle town was made up predominantly of pigs, which is how we decided on the name ‘The Pig on the Hill’.’’ l See letters: Pages 12&13