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Antiquarians first began its study in the 17th century, and archaeological excavations took place at the site in the years that followed. O'Kelly led the most extensive of these and also reconstructed the frontage of the site in the 1970s, a reconstruction that is controversial and disputed.
Newgrange today is a popular tourist site and, according to the archaeologist Colin Renfrew, is "unhesitatingly regarded by the prehistorian as the great national monument of Ireland" and as one of the most important megalithic structures in Europe.
Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. Some of the material that makes up the monument came from as far away as the Mournes and Wicklow Mountains.
There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it is believed that it had religious significance.
At the end of the passage are three small chambers off a larger central chamber, with a high corbelled vault roof.
The mound is 76 metres (249 ft) across and 12 metres (39 ft) high, and covers 4,500 square metres (1.1 acres) of ground.The remains of animals have also been found in the tomb, primarily those of mountain hares, rabbits and dogs, but also bats, sheep or goat, cattle, song thrush, and more rarely, mollusc and frog.Most of these animals would only have entered and died in the chamber many centuries or even millennia after it was constructed: for instance, rabbits were only introduced to Ireland in the 13th century.The walls of this passage are made up of large stone slabs, twenty-two of which are on the west side and twenty-one on the east, which average out at 1.5 metres in height; Situated around the perimeter of the mound is a circle of standing stones.
Twelve standing-stones survive out of a possible original thirty-five or thereabouts.
Extensive research on how the art relates to alignments and astronomy in the Boyne Valley complex was carried out by American-Irish researcher Martin Brennan.