Google and its UK map provider, Tele Atlas, are cleaning the egg off their faces this week over the appearance of a town called Argleton in Google Maps. It’s right there on Google Maps, and there’s even an Argleton place page with photos and more.
Problem is, Argleton doesn’t exist.
The Telegraph picked up the story over the weekend, but it actually goes back more than a year. UK resident Mike Nolan — a modern-day Chris Columbus, perhaps? — seems to have first discovered Argleton in September, 2008. Roy Bayfield actually visited the mythical Argleton in February of this year, and posted photos of what appears to be some vacant fields and wooded areas.
No one seems to be able to explain how these barren fields came to be called Argleton on Google Maps. Some speculate that it’s a trap to help catch others who might be using the maps data without permission. The Telegraph says Tele Atlas will remove Argleton from its maps data and quotes a Google spokesperson thusly:
“While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors. We’re constantly working to improve the quality and accuracy of the information available in Google Maps and appreciate our users’ feedback in helping us do so. People can report an issue to the data provider directly and this will be updated at a later date.”
Meanwhile, via Twitter, David Leonhardt pointed out that Google Maps also lists a town called Middle Earth in Maryland. I’m not up on Maryland geography enough to know if there’s actually a place with that name, but I’m thinking it might be Argleton’s sister city.