Dry stone masonry is an ancient building tradition and occurs wherever rock is available and the craft tradition is known. Kentucky rock fences are a distinct style of folk architecture, locally called "rock fences" even though they are mostly built of quarried "stone." They are built entirely without mortar, using the forces of friction and gravity to hold them together.
The continuing construction of these fences serves as tribute to the skills of ethnic groups who practiced these building techniques. Early settlers of Scots-Irish origin built the first rock fences in Kentucky. Later, in the mid-1800's, crews of itinerant Irish masons built many of the rock fences that bordered the newly created turnpikes of the Commonwealth. Following the Civil War, black freedmen took up the craft and became well-known rock fence builders. Today, the craft is alive and well, and the skills are transferring yet again to another generation.
The largest collection of rock fences is in central Kentucky. The diagram shows the counties with the most rock fences. Counties shown in red represent the highest concentration in the Inner Bluegrass area, while counties shown in blue represent areas with fewer concentrations.
The site map below shows the locations of dry-laid structures in this park. All the structures were built beginning in 1997 by the Dry Stone Conservancy, a non-profit organization with the mission to preserve existing dry stone structures, and to revive and promote the ancient craft of dry-laid stone masonry. The City of Frankfort Parks & Recreation Department funded the construction of the dry-laid structures. Funding and in-kind support for the exhibit panels was provided by the Kentucky Arts Council, the City of Frankfort's Parks & Recreation Department, and the Dry Stone Conservancy.