South Tyneside Council is delving into the past this week as it looks ahead to the future.
Archaeological digs are underway in South Shields' market place ahead of plans to transform the town as part of the 365 masterplan.
Machines will be excavating to around two metres deep in four trial locations to check if there are items of archaeological value on development sites.
Archaeologists will be present throughout the digs to advise on any finds.
Councillor John Anglin, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy, said: "This is another milestone in the masterplan's progress.
"It was a condition of planning permission that we carry out these excavations. The locations have been decided in consultation with archaeological experts and these tend to be in areas where we will be digging more deeply once construction work starts, such as where the foundations for the new market canopy will be.
"We've been in contact with market traders and local retailers to advise them about the work, but disruption will be kept to an absolute minimum."
The Market Place will still be open for business as usual while the digs are ongoing.
The council and its development partner Muse will shortly be announcing the contractor appointed to carry out the construction of the new Central Library and Digital Media Centre.
Preliminary works have been ongoing for several weeks to prepare the site for work starting.
Archaeological investigations have already been completed on the former Wouldhave House site, trial holes have been hand dug to locate utilities and topographical, drainage, noise and ecology surveys have been carried out.
Cllr Anglin added: "We're very much looking forward to seeing the physical build get underway.
"The first phase of the 365 plan is coming to fruition now and we're beginning to focus on phase two, getting the necessary planning permissions in place to secure the whole development."