TAKING its name from a majestic Roman mosaic hidden for centuries, Lion Walk dates back much further than the shopping centre we all know today.

As archaeologists discovered during a huge dig between 1971 and 1974, a large Roman house used to stand on the site in the 4th century, and the mosaic uncovered would have taken pride of place.

The work of art, depicting a lion, was found just beneath the surface outside where Boots now stands.

It was given to the Colchester Castle Museum and a replica was put up in the shopping centre in 2009 to mark the historical find.

Centuries on, Lion Walk became a house-lined street leading to the Red Lion coaching inn. The street was dominated by Lion Walk church, which was built in 1863.

A report by Colchester Civic Society in 1968 outlined the following 14 years of development in Colchester, including redeveloping Lion Walk, Culver Street, St. Peter's Street and St. John's Street.

The original streets and buildings were destroyed to make way for the new Lion Walk precinct, and the archaeological dig was completed before work started on the shopping centre, which opened in 1976.

The original centre had a bridge linking the units in Culver Street East and Culver Walk but was taken down during a £20million revamp of the site in 2009.

The Lion Walk shopping centre website tells us: “Red Lion Yard, the small shopping district leading from the high street to Lion Walk shopping centre, has a very rich history.

“But as shoppers, we often don’t take a moment to appreciate the history of the things around us.

“Built in 1481 by the first Duke of Norfolk, Red Lion Hotel was the Duke’s town-house in Colchester.

"The land behind the building also belonged to the duke, then was later passed to the Red Lion Inn, however Red lion Yard had always acted as a public carriageway to Lion Walk.

“The street crossed Culver Street and extended south to the junction with Eld Lane. First mentioned in 1748, Lion Walk was originally called Cat Lane. Since 1357, it has been referred to as Lion Walk.”