Thegns, or Ðegns, were a numerous class, there were approximately two thousand landowners of the thegnly class in Wessex and Mercia.  Thegns were not restricted to the king's service, as the great earls and ealdormen had their own thegns; even some of the more powerful and landed thegns had their own lesser thegns.  In return for land a thegn performed certain duties which are well described in a late 10th-century document which states:
"The law of the ðegn is that he be entitled to his chartered estates, and that he perform three things in respect of his land: military service and the repair of fortresses and work on bridges.  Also in many estates further land duties arise by order of the king, such as servicing the deer-fence at the king's residence, and equipping a guard ship and guarding the coast, and attendance on his superior, and supplying a military guard, almsgiving and church dues and many other different things."