Gilchrist was born on 28 June 1965 to John James Gilchrist and Gail Ann Foreman (née Campbell). She studied at the University of York, graduating Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1986 and Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in 1990.
Gilchrist began her academic career in 1990, when she became a lecturer at University of East Anglia. In 1996, she moved to the University of Reading to take up the position of Professor of Archaeology. She is currently the Head of School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science.
In addition to her university work, she has held a number of positions. From 1993 to 2005, she was the consultant archaeologist to Norwich Cathedral. From 1997 to 2006, she was Editor of World Archaeology, an academic journal specialising in all aspects of archaeology. She served as President of the Society for Medieval Archaeology from 2004 to 2007.
- (ed. with H. Mytum) The Archaeology of Rural Monasteries. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (BAR 203), 1989.
- (with M. Oliva) Religious women in medieval East Anglia. Norwich : Centre of East Anglian Studies, 1993.
- (ed. with H. Mytum) Advances in monastic archaeology: Conference on urban monasteries. Oxford: Tempus Reperatum, 1993.
- Gender and Material Culture: the archaeology of religious women. London: Routledge, 1994.
- Contemplation and Action: the other monasticism. Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1995.
- Gender and Archaeology: Contesting the Past. London: Routledge, 1999.
- (ed. with D. Gaimster) The archaeology of Reformation. London: Maneys, 2003.
- (with B. Sloane) Requiem: the Medieval Monastic Cemetery in Britain. London: Museum of London Archaeological Service, 2005
- Norwich Cathedral Close: the Evolution of the English Cathedral Landscape. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2005.
- Medieval Life: Archaeology and the Life Course. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2012.
- "GILCHRIST, Prof. Roberta Lynn". Who's Who 2014. A & C Black. December 2013. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Staff Profile:Professor Roberta Gilchrist". Department of Archaeology. University of Reading. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Norwich Cathedral Archaeology". University of Reading. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "GILCHRIST, Professor Roberta". British Academy Fellows. British Academy. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Fellows Directory - G". Society of Antiquaries of London. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Professor Roberta Gilchrist". Elections to the Fellowship. British Academy. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
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