The Book of Llandaff was originally bound in oak covers which were covered in a thin layer of silver. The present lower cover is the only remaining part of that binding. In the early Middle Ages it was customary to adorn the covers of the most valuable books, in particular the books of the gospels, but it was very rare to use anything as substantial as the image of Christ in Glory that adorned the cover of the Book of Llandaff for centuries. The image was constructed of fine bronze in England in the mid-13th century.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the manuscript came to the possession of the antiquarian John Selden (1584-1654), and afterwards it was owned by Robert Davies (1658-1710), of Llannerch and Gwysaney, Flintshire by the end of that century. He put a new oak cover on the front of the volume in 1696, and the Book of Llandaff remained at Llannerch until it was placed on deposit at The National Library of Wales early in the 1940s. The Library purchased the volume in June 1959.
The text of Liber Landavensis from the Gwysaney manuscript was reproduced by J Gwenogvryn Evans with the co-operation of John Rhys and published as a limited edition in 1893; a facsimile appeared in 1979.
In 1892, The Book of Llandaff was re-bound from scratch using the old covers. This was done at the British Library. Because of the rigidity of that binding, one realised that it would be impossible to digitise the manuscript’s content without losing a great deal of information concealed in the ‘channel’ between the leaves. In order to produce complete images from every page, it was decided to unbind the manuscript in October 2006 separating the individual leaves from each other, hence revealing some new words which had remained hidden for centuries.
It is intended to re-bind the Book of Llandaff in 2007, separating the original covers from the leaves of the text. The covers will be placed on a bespoke block for exhibition, and the text will be bound in new archival covers to preserve it for further future study.