Ian Barton (1926-2011) was a long serving classics lecturer at St David’s College, as well as a winner of the radio quiz show, Brain of Britain and a Mastermind series runner-up.

Barton was the son of a clergyman, the Ven. H. Douglas Barton. He was born in Swansea, but attended Marlborough College before doing national service. Then, like his father before him as well as his brothers Peter and Michael, he went up to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Academically gifted, he was a Foundation Scholar of Corpus and a Porson Scholar of the University. He graduated with a First in Classics and a Diploma in Classical Archaeology. 

Barton’s first academic posts were at Keele University and then the University of the Gold Coast, (now University of Ghana). He was appointed Lecturer in Classics at St David’s College in 1962; he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1972. He was twice acting head of the Classics Department and did a stint as Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1975.  

Barton’s particular speciality was Roman architecture. He was the editor of two books in the Exeter Studies in History series, aimed at sixth formers and undergraduates. Freed described Roman public buildings (University of Exeter Press, 1989) as covering a great deal of crucial information in a small space. McWhirr felt Barton’s own chapter on religious buildings provided a good summary of a complex subject. Moorman commented that Roman domestic buildings (University of Exeter Press, 1996) provided a ‘sound introduction into the study of various forms of living in both the Roman city and the countryside.’ 

Barton’s general knowledge was huge, making him an outstanding contestant on BBC quiz shows. He won the 1963 series of the radio competition Brain of Britain, (at that time part of What Do You Know?).  In 1981, he was runner-up in the grand final of Mastermind, losing by only two points. He took as his specialist subjects Roman Emperors of the First and Second Centuries AD in his heat and Greek and Roman Classical Architecture in his semi-final. Barton competed again in the 1995 series.  

Barton also coached the St David’s College University Challenge team. The competition was taken very seriously; Barton selected the contestants by issuing a general knowledge quiz, with 120 questions! (In 1985, he submitted 20 questions, which none of the students had got right, to the newsletter of the Mastermind club!) St David’s College sides were successful; Lampeter teams reached the semi-finals of the 1965-66 and 1980-81 series. In 1965, Lampeter defeated teams from Pembroke College Cambridge, Exeter College Oxford, Corpus Christi College Cambridge and Magdalene College Cambridge. The Bulletin of the Lampeter Society pointed out that ‘This I.T.V. game has given Lampeter more publicity than money could buy.’   

Barton was active politically; he served on the committee of the Political Archive in the Welsh National Library as the representative of the Liberal Democrats in Wales. He attended St Peter’s church, Lampeter for almost fifty years. On his retirement, he became a Lay Reader, taking services into his eighties.  

Barton married Cecilia Phyllis Green in 1953; he and Cecilia had two sons and two daughters. He died on 13 March 2011. He is buried in the graveyard of St Peter’s Church. 


In memoriam (2011). The Letter. 90,119-120. Retrieved January 8 2021 from https://www.corpus.cam.ac.uk/sites/default/files/images/Development%20Office/The%20letter/Letter_No_90_2011.pdf 

Moormann, E. (1999). [Review of the book Roman domestic buildings, edited by I.M. Barton] Mnemosyne,52(1), fourth series, 126-127. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4432940 

Freed, J. (1990). [Review of the book Roman public buildings, edited by I.M. Barton] Phoenix 44(4),400-401. Retrieved January 11 2021 from https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.uwtsd.ac.uk/stable/1088818?sid=primo&origin=crossref&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents 

McWhirr, A.D. (1991). [Review of the book Roman public buildings, edited by I.M. Barton] Urban History, 18, 173-174. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963926800016060 

Obituaries (2011). Cylchlythyr yr Archif Wleidyddol Gymreig = The Welsh Political Archive newsletter. 42,5. Retrieved January 11 2021 from https://www.library.wales/fileadmin/fileadmin/docs_gwefan/casgliadau/archifau/archif_wleidyddol/cylchlythyr_awg/saesneg/cylch_awg_42.pdf 

Fuller, G. (2012). Membership matters. Pass: the quarterly magazine of the Mastermind Club. 2012(1),1. Retrieved January 11 2021 from file:///C:/Users/Ruth%20Gooding/Downloads/PASS+2012+1.pdf 

Barton, I.M. (1985). A quiz from Lampeter. Pass: the bi-monthly magazine of the Mastermind Club. 7(2),21-22. Retrieved January 11 2021 from file:///C:/Users/Ruth%20Gooding/Downloads/PASS%201985%202%20(5).pdf 

University Challenge (1966). The Bulletin of the Lampeter Society, 19,10-11.