Different Au-Ag-Cu samples have been studied by mechanical spectroscopy. Both polycrystals and bi-crystals show a relaxation peak at 800 K, accompanied by an elastic modulus change. Since this peak is absent in single crystals it is related to the presence of grain boundaries. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal two microscopic mechanisms, when a shear stress is applied onto a Sigma 5 grain boundary: at 700 K, the boundary migrates perpendicularly to the boundary plane under an external stress. At 1000 K, only sliding at the boundary is observed. These two mechanisms acting in different temperature intervals are used to model the mechanic response of a polycrystal under an applied stress. The models yield expressions for the relaxation strength Delta and for the relaxation time tau as a function of the grain size. A comparison with the mechanical spectroscopy measurements of polycrystals and the bi-crystals show that the grain boundary sliding model reproduces correctly the characteristics of the grain boundary peak.