Earlier this year, locals hiking through the Caribbean island of Montserrat came across stone carvings believed to be between 1000 and 1500 years old. The authenticity of the discovery was recently confirmed by archaeologists, making the petroglyphs the first of their kind ever found in the British territory, The Guardian reports.

The group was trekking through the island's northern forests last January when they noticed something unusual: petroglyphs depicting mysterious figures and geometric shapes carved into the face of a boulder. In the last few years, the Survey and Landscape Archaeology on Montserrat (SLAM) project has identified more than 50 archaeological sites on the island, but this marks the first time such engravings have been discovered there.

Humans are thought to have first arrived on the island between 2500 and 4000 years ago. Arawak-speaking people, whose carvings have been found in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and even along the rivers of South America, came to the island around 500 BCE before leaving in the late 1400s. According to The Guardian, University of Virginia anthropologist George Mentore sees similarities between the newly identified petroglyphs and Arawak carvings found elsewhere.

Early analysis dates the engravings between 500 CE and 1000 CE, but carbon tests could provide further insights into the pictures' origins and the island's early history.

[h/t The Guardian]

All images: Montserrat National Trust via Facebook