In The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, Frodo Baggins is appointed to be the Ring-bearer by the Council of Elrond in Rivendell. He was to carry the One Ring from Rivendell to the Crack of Doom in Mordor and destroy it before Sauron's minions, the Ringwraiths could retrieve it for their Dark Lord.
The title is also given to two other hobbits who carried the One Ring. They were Bilbo Baggins and Frodo's companion Sam Gamgee (who carried it briefly in Mordor). Because of their position as Ring-bearers, they were granted the right to travel to the Undying Lands.
In fact, others bore the Ring during its existence, but were not classified as Ring-bearers. They include:
- Sauron, who made it
- Isildur, who cut it from Sauron's finger and wore it until it slipped off into the Gladden river just before his death
- Gollum, who murdered Déagol to get it
- Tom Bombadil, on whom it had no effect
Two others handled the Ring but did not actually wear it: Déagol, who found it in the Gladden, and Gandalf, who held it only long enough to toss it in the fire. (In the movie, Gandalf avoids touching it at all, but in the book he does handle it very briefly.)
One interpretation of the Ring-bearer role, may be found in Peter Kjaerulff's The Ringbearer's Diary. Frodo's carrying the ring all the way back to Mt. Doom, symbolizes the task of carrying the weight of destructive emotions all the way to their origin. The ring symbolizes the central "knot" of the negative emotions.
In a white wedding, a ringbearer is an attendant, often a young boy, who carries the wedding rings for the bridal party.