TIME Team scenes will return to Radcliffe Tower in April when the next archaeological dig exploring the monument’s medieval past begins.

Radcliffe Tower in Close Park was once three storeys high and is the only visible remains of the de Radcliffe family’s ancient manor.

Salford University archaeologists initially excavated in October 2013, exposing the foundations of the 17th century Tower Farm and 19th century Tower Street cottages.

After the discovery of medieval stonework, tiles and pottery sparked a follow-up dig last September, a 15th century doorway and floor and stone plinth bases from the great hall which once joined onto the tower were discovered.

These exciting findings caused the university’s archaeology centre to make the tower site one of only two flagship excavations in its Dig Greater Manchester initiative.

Now another dig to excavate underneath the former Tower Street cottages and work out the extent of medieval floor remains will take place between April 13 and May 15.

An open day to view the project’s excavations will be held on May 16, before the trenches are filled the following week.

Cllr Jane Lewis, cabinet member for communities and culture, said: “It is great to see all the strands of this project coming together: the huge amount of volunteer effort, the professional building work, the archaeology and the opportunities for art and now construction students.”

Repairs to Radcliffe Tower itself will begin on March 2, before the dig starts, and are expected to take four months.

They involve replacing fallen masonry, strengthening walls, renewing grilles and re-pointing joints with lime mortar and will cost £64,000 – of which £57,413 has come from landfill tax credit distributor Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN).

Students on Bury College’s construction course who are interested in conservation careers will be getting involved with the repair works.

Once the dig and repairs are complete Radcliffe Tower’s grounds will be landscaped, information panels installed and the outlines of the ancient buildings picked out.

A heritage trail incorporating the tower, adjacent medieval St Mary’s Parish Church, the tithebarn and the site of the Bealey’s Close House in Close Park is being developed.

This wider project to boost visitors, which will also include the improvement of access to the site, has been paid for by a £266,900 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The total value of the work is around £461,000, and the rest of the funding is being provided through volunteer time, other grants and support from Bury Council.

Cllr Lewis added: “We are aiming to develop the old manor precinct as a unique extension to Close Park, but the preparatory work has been equally important.”

Sara Hilton, Regional Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: "The fund saw the Radcliffe project as being about the local community investigating and enjoying its important heritage.”

Anyone who wants to volunteer for the dig can e-mail v.nash@salford.ac.uk