Sites in Leigh, Bury, Stockport and Oldham will be the first to be explored as part of Dig Greater Manchester, an ambitious project combining digs with workshops and lectures in 11 boroughs.
The first excavation will be the medieval Etherstone Hall in Leigh during March. The Hall has origins tracing back to 1415 and volunteers from the community and schools will work with Salford University's archaeologists to find out more about its moat, discover pottery and other remains, and trace its history right up to the late 1970s.
Also included this year, but yet to be detailed are sites in Bury, Stockport and Oldham.
The digs will expand into next year when the rest of the sites in each borough in Greater Manchester and Blackburn with Darwen are announced and, by the end of the four year project over 9,000 people – from school children to pensioners – will have been involved and learnt new skills.
Salford University is managing the project and funding is being supplied by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.
Brian Grimsditch from the University of Salford Centre for Applied Archaeology said: "It's a great feeling to finally get under way. This project has the potential to make a permanent difference to people's interest in their local areas right across the region.
"While we are supervising the digs, it is very much an effort being made by the people of the 11 boroughs. At school or in the wider population, Dig Greater Manchester will start a major and lasting change in the way history and conservation are undertaken by people in their communities."
To become a volunteer or find out more contact the team at Salford University here .