Surveyors move into Northampton Market Square this week ready to unearth some of the mysteries of what's under the 800-year-old town centre.
A ton of hi-tech equipment will be rolled into the area as the first step towards an £8.44million transformation project due to start next year.
Engineers armed with ground-penetrating radar and CCTV cameras will investigate drainage and mapping of the site.
Cllr Lizzy Bowen, Northampton Forward Board Member and West Northamptonshire Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Town Centre Regeneration and Growth, admitted: "It will be fascinating to see what the surveys turn up as we currently don’t have a clear understanding of what is under there.
“These surveys will be vital for our understanding of what’s possible in Market Square.
“Gillespies, our lead designers on the project, will use the information provided to begin working up detailed designs based on the results of the consultation in late 2019 and early 2020.
“This is the start of a design process which will involve further consultation with the people who use the market, those who work there and anyone who has an interest in its future.”
Northampton's Market Square was first established in 1189, paved nearly 400 years later and rebuilt in 1675 after the Great Fire of Northampton devastated the town centre, destroying more than 600 buildings in just six hours.
Locals raised around £25,000 towards rebuilding the town centre based around the Market Square.
Fast forward nearly 450 years and plans to rejuvenate the area are on the cards with the help of Northampton Forward’s successful bid for a share of the Future High Streets Fund.
Every inch of the market square will need to be surveyed, so some of the work is being undertaken at night to avoid disruption to traders and other planned activities.
Information will be used to fine-tune designs submitted as part of the bid before work gets under way in earnest next summer.
A target date of March 31, 2024, has been set for completion.
Jo Gordon, Northampton Forward board member and Royal & Derngate theatre's chief executive, said: “It’s fantastic to see this work starting on Market Square.
"The results of these surveys will provide a brilliant springboard for the design work to be elevated to the next level of detail.
“I can’t wait to see the creative ways they will marry the old and the new to create something special for this revitalised heart of the town”