Understanding past climates using GCM models is critical to confidently predicting future climate change. Although previous analysis of GCM simulations have shown them to under calculate European glacial temperature anomalies (the difference between modern and glacial temperatures) such analyses have focused primarily on results from glacial simulations alone. Here we compare glacial maximum GCM results with the palaeoenvironment derived from glacier-climate modelling. The comparison confirms that GCM anomalies are not large enough, and that this is due to modern conditions that are modelled too cold and glacial temperatures that are too warm. The result is that GCM results, if applied to a glacier mass balance model, over predict the extent of glaciers today, and under calculate their extent at the last glacial (as depicted in glacial geological reconstructions). Effects such as seasonality and model parameterisation change the magnitude of the under calculation but still fail to match expected glacial conditions.