One of the first questions likely to be asked by someone confronted for the first time by the great Oceanus plate (missorium) from Mildenhall (I, pl. VII a)** is, What was it used for? The answer is that neither it nor any of its fellow flat, decorated plates of silver, whether round or rectangular, to be surveyed in this paper, was ever used for practical, domestic purposes to serve as table-ware. It is hard to imagine the highly sophisticated and often elaborate relief- or incised-work that they carry being concealed beneath piles of fruit, vegetables, cakes, or portions of meat or fish greasy with gravy or sauce. These reliefs or engravings, whether covering the whole surface of a plate or confined to its central medallion or to its central medallion and flange, were essentially pictures for display in their owners' houses, or in temples or churches, probably mounted on brackets or shelves fixed to walls or to cupboards or chests (some are pierced by one or more holes as though for suspension on a wall), where they could be studied and admired for their beauty as works of art and/or their political, cultic or mythological implications.