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2019 Certification Program and Registration Form

2019 Certification and Registration Form


The Dry Stone Conservancy (DSC) is a publicly supported nonprofit 501(c)3 organization whose purpose is preserving drystone structures and promoting the craft of drystone masonry—the technique of building rock fences and stone walls without mortar.

The Conservancy’s Certification Program, federally registered in 2001, is designed to promote public confidence in dry-laid stone as a desirable building technique and in the skills of certified drystone craftsmen. As a part of this purpose, the DSC conducts training courses to teach generally accepted international drystone construction standards, and maintains a register of independent professional masons.

The DSC program is the only national certification program for dry stone craftsmen in the United States. The program was modeled after the highly successful professional registry of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA), and was tailored to the needs of preservationists and professional designers in the United States, including the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the National Park Service.

Basic training in drystone fence building is regularly offered in Kentucky for aspiring craftsmen and the general public. Special courses are taught on request in other states for aspiring drystone masons, and at various national and state parks for park maintenance personnel. Advanced training is offered periodically in partnership with sponsoring agencies at restoration sites throughout the country. It is not mandatory, however, to attend a DSC training course to become certified.

DSC-certified drystone masons may be included on the Conservancy’s Referral List of Certified Dry Stone Craftsmen, which is supplied upon request to government agencies and the general public.  This list is posted on the DSC web site: DSC-certified craftsmen may incorporate the federally copyrighted DSC Registration Mark on their promotional materials.


The Dry Stone Conservancy has multiple certification levels – for drystone masons, journeymen, master craftsmen, drystone authorities, examiners, instructors, and garden masons. All levels in the certification program are for professional drystone masons

Although participation in the DSC training program is not required for certification, it will be of great assistance in acquiring needed skills. As part of the training, the Instructors show slides and a how-to video, and carefully explain the theories of internationally accepted standards. Courses are hands-on and provide the trainees with instruction in every part of building a double-faced drystone fence, while providing continuous monitoring in the field.


Qualified Drystone Mason is the first, beginning, level in the Dry Stone Conservancy’s certification program. Candidates who pass the test for correctly building a wallhead, a low retaining wall, and a (timed) drystone fence section, achieve the initial level of Qualified Drystone Mason.


Journeyman Mason is the second level in advancement in the Dry Stone Conservancy’s certification program. It is earned by drystone masons with skills above the beginning (basic) level. Journeyman masons are skilled in building and repairing strong field fences, retaining walls, roadside fences, and stream bank walls, as well as common drystone features such as curved fences, corners, culverts, and stepped foundations. Their abilities include sound techniques, durable construction, and a good production rate.

It will greatly assist a drystone mason who aspires to journeyman certification to participate in the DSC’s training projects or to work with Journeymen or Master Craftsmen. These projects give the masons experience in more advanced construction and production techniques, ensure that they understand the theories of internationally accepted standards, and provide continuous monitoring in the field.


Master Craftsman certifies masons who are fully proficient in all aspects of building freestanding fences, retaining walls up to 5 feet in height, special features commonly incorporated in drystone fences, and use of a variety of rock types. In addition to excellence in building drystone fences and retaining walls, the Master Craftsman builds pillars, arches, and stiles. Master Craftsmen must conduct their work in a fully professional manner. Essential requirements are construction techniques that provide structural strength combined with a superior production rate.


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Spring 2019 Workshop Schedule!!!

It is that time again!  We have a busy season planned.

The One Day Stone Dressing Clinic is designed for people who have already taken a workshop and would like to gain some basic skills on how to process, cut, split, shape and finish stone for various commonly-encountered drystone applications.   Participants will be working with hand and power tools.  This workshop will be led by DSC and DSWA Master Craftsman, Neil Rippingale.

March 16th Stone Dressing Clinic (Saturday) Mercer County, KY

March 17th Stone Dressing Clinic (Sunday) Mercer County, KY

The Corners Workshop is designed for drystone enthusiasts who have previously taken a workshop with the Dry Stone Conservancy and are trying to better their understanding of the craft.  This workshop will introduce techniques of constructing and incorporating corners into a dry stone rock fence.  Workshop participants will rebuild sections and corners of a cemetery rock fence on a beautiful historic property in Fayette County, Kentucky.

April 26-27 Corners Workshop (Friday-Saturday) Advanced, Fayette County, KY

Introductory Workshops are designed for drystone enthusiasts with little to no previous experience who would like to gain a basic understanding of dry stone construction techniques.  The pace will be comfortable and participants will learn the fundamental skills needed to build and repair a typical rock fence or retaining wall.

April 27-28 Intro Workshop (Saturday-Sunday) Fayette County, KY

May 4-5 Intro Workshop (Saturday-Sunday) Clark County, KY

Certification Preparation Workshop and Certification Exams will be offered this Spring.  More information on that soon.  Stay tuned!!!


Our workshops tend to sell out quickly.  If you find that a workshop is sold out but are interested in being on the wait-list for a workshop in the event of a cancellation, contact us at

You can make a deposit here **Please note which workshop you are making a deposit for in the notes**

Stay tuned for more event announcements.  We hope to see you out there!