English artist Rachel Carter was commissioned to create a series of bronze sculptures for the Pilgrim Roots districts as part of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower.

The Pilgrim Roots region covers Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire. Four centuries ago, a small group, who can trace their roots to the Bassetlaw area decided to leave England in search of religious freedom. They sailed first to Holland, and later some of them sailed to America on board the Mayflower.

Pilgrim Roots is a regional partnership that is part of the national Mayflower 400 partnership, working collectively to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage and the stories associated with it – including the roots of the Separatists who became Pilgrims, through themes of tolerance, freedom, journeys and migration. 

Pilgrims’ heritage is shared across four nations – the UK, the Netherlands, the Wampanoag and the USA.

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The Pilgrim Woman Series

In the 400th anniversary year of the Mayflower voyage, artist and sculptor Rachel Carter followed in the footsteps of the Mayflower Pilgrims to develop a brand-new body of sculptural work inspired by their journey and encounters, which brings together ancient crafts and contemporary technology in new and innovative ways. In order to bring attention to the often-unheard stories of the women on this journey, Rachel created the Pilgrim Woman series; a plus life-size bronze sculpture for the DANUM Gallery in Doncaster near Austerfield, birthplace of pilgrim William Bradford; a smaller Pilgrim that stands on a carved stone plinth in Gainsborough and a new sculpture, ‘Pilgrim Women Boston’, featuring two women bound together with a cord created through a public engagement project with women around the county.

Explore Rachel’s research and broader practice to contextualise the Pilgrim Woman sculpture series and showcase the depth of research undertaken by the artist during this project. A key example of this research is her eight-day voyage across the Atlantic on a cargo ship– echoing the voyage of the Mayflower Separatists. Throughout the project, Rachel has been committed to researching and exploring the lesser-known histories of the Mayflower Pilgrim’s journeys, including the histories of the people of the First Nations. Spending time in Boston, MA, she visited The Peabody Museum, part of the Harvard University campus, and spent a few days in the archives, assisted by specialists and archivists, studying and sketching artefacts made by people of the First Nations. Her final stop was in Provincetown at the Pilgrim Monument and Museum where she became artist in residence. Over a two week period Rachel shared her experiments with the visitors and taught over 600 members of the public how to create macrame items.

My Mayflower Part Two – The Pilgrim Woman

A short film by Mayflower 400 UK