The successive appearance of strange fossil remains in Ipolytarnóc caught the attention of the people in the area, and in good Palóc fashion they sought an explanation for their existence. Folk fantasy is fertile, fabulous stories sprouted from the cracks of the 17-million-year-old petrified world.
Here is a taste, published from the collection of Ásatag/Petrified:
THE PETRIFIED WOOD MATHUSALEM
Towards the end of the 1700s, the large petrified tree in Tarnóc was excavated from the volcanic rubble by erosion. The Borókás stream washed away the much softer volcanic dust from under it, and a 42 m long piece slowly began to span the moat and then gully that formed below it like a stone bridge.
The locals who passed by liked to sit on it, recognizing the origin of the tree and naming it "Gyurtyánkő Lócza". It was thought to be a tree (candle) bewitched by a cruel magician, in which the magic still shines, though frozen.
Therefore, if one touches it with a pure heart, places his palm on it, and with a calm mind expresses his desire to the stone tree, the power of magic can seep through and fulfill the wish. But woe to the one who is guided by the desire to harm others, the magic turns against him and freezes his heart in such a way that he can no longer give love, nor can he receive it.
Shark teeth recovered from the sandy coastal sediments of the Lower Miocene shallow sea also captured the imagination of the locals. They thought that those teeth were petrified bird tongues because of their shape. Why is that? Here's a possible explanation.
When the great wizard froze the huge tree into stone, the singing birds flew away from it in fright, alarmedly announcing the terrible event to the world. To silence them, the sorcerer turned their tongues into stone, which fell out of their beaks and scattered around the area. The landscape was silent for a long time, deathly silence.
Lo and behold, if the sorcerer personifies the volcano, then we find the stone wood preserver, the volcanic eruption destroyed the original habitat, banishing the melody of life from the post-catastrophe lunar landscape.
Erosion next to the large petrified tree slowly carried away the fine volcanic ash from the footprint-marked sandstone of the ancient paleosoil, and the footprints of ancient creatures gradually emerged from the darkness of the past. The locals referred to the stripped, relatively flat surface as "Kőmedencze", on which the dusky, scouring sunlight really brought out the plasticity of the footprints frozen into stone.
Superstition can often strengthen a community. The locals believed that if engaged couples danced on the footprint-bearing sandstone at this time of day, their joint steps as spouses after they reconciled would be as timeless as the footprints frozen into stone. Grateful descendants will forever remember their ancestors who performed a vow dance on the footprinted sandstone surface. See, the past still holds us together.