Educated at the school (since closed) of the Church of England Community of All Hallows, Norfolk and at Girton College at the University of Cambridge, in 1985 she joined the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (now part of English Heritage) as a field archaeologist for Wessex. During part of her time with the RCHME she was seconded to the History Department of the University of Birmingham to research the relationship between settlement and landscape in the East Midlands. She followed this with a similar project for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In 1999 she was elected a visiting fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where she is a Senior Research Associate and Affiliated Lecturer. In 2004 she took on a new post at Cambridge to promote undergraduate archaeology, and created Access Cambridge Archaeology.
In 1993 she joined the team creating the first Time Team series, shown in 1994. The success of Time Team encouraged the production of other programmes in similar formats, including What If and House Detectives. In 2000 she fronted an episode of the BBC counter history programme entitled "What If" where she theorised on what would have happened had Boudicca's uprising succeeded in AD 60. In 2002 House Detectives at Large starred Carenza Lewis with architectural historian Dan Cruickshank. She also devised and presented a series called Sacred Sites for HTV. She left Time Team after series 12, filmed in 2004, and returned to television in the 2010 series Michael Wood's Story of England.
In 2015 Carenza Lewis was appointed Professor of Public Understanding of Research at the University of Lincoln.
- Aston, Mick and Lewis, Carenza (eds.) (1994) The Medieval Landscape of Wessex Oxford: Oxbow
- Lewis, Carenza, Mitchell-Fox, Patrick and Dyer, Christopher (1997) Village, Hamlet and Field: Changing Medieval Settlements in Central England Manchester University Press
- Lewis, Carenza, Harding, Phil and Aston, Mick, (2000) Time Team's Timechester: a companion to archaeology; ed. Tim Taylor London: Macmillan
- Aberg, Alan and Lewis, Carenza (eds.) (2000) The Rising Tide: Archaeology and Coastal Landscapes Oxford: Oxbow
- General Register Office for England and Wales Births Q2 1963
- "People - Carenza Rachel Lewis MA, ScD, FSA". University of Cambridge. Division of Archaeology. Archived from the original on 21 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
- Access Cambridge Archaeology Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- Michael Wood's Story of England, PBS TV. Accessed 6 August 2014.
- "My nightmare all a 'mistake'". Independent.ie. 2000-06-18. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
- "TV woman's mastectomy nightmare". Daily Telegraph. 2001-05-04. Retrieved 2013-02-04.